Macy Gray - The Sellout

2010-07-21 12:36
The Sellout

Has Macy Gray sold out with regards to her musical values – in other words, has she purposely gone for the most pop album she could make? Or does she mean that she sold out her industry status? Or is she hoping that the album literally sells out? It's tempting to think that the simplicity of the music and production on the album is the doublespeak of a socially available record, but if you're a guy, you'll probably never know – this is a record that women (at least many of the women I know) should understand.

Most Macy Gray watchers continue to berate the artist's work for not living up to 1999's On How It Is. This reflects a startling reality in fans' perceptions – that they seldom let you grow out of boundaries that they themselves set up for you. But the converse is also true – if you were so-so on Gray's initial soul-centred impact, you might find a ten-years-older, more pop-oriented Gray more palatable.

So it is that many who hail On How It Is as Gray's best have expressed disappointment in The Sellout, saying that is at best patchy, and at worst middle-ground and clichéd. Why this is a bad thing for Macy Gray, and this album in particular, is not clear.

Regardless of the constant tapping production chestnuts, Gray's vocal delivery is probably still one of the more interesting things to listen to in pop today. The almost toned-back production on The Sellout works extremely effectively in showing off the diva's quirky chic.

If there is a worst moment on The Sellout, it's the guitar solo on "Kissed It", which is blamed on Velvet Revolver, serving as backing band for this track. Here and there are a couple of lazy lyrics or melodies, but these hardly dominate the album.

Not when there are laugh-out-loud moments on the retro-funky "That Man" (..."I was so happy 'bout the love that I found till I went to the library and I saw him – mm mmm – Say oh yeah, oh, yeah I want THAT man!").

Indeed, the tunes and their structures are sort of clichéd, but that makes them excellent singalongs for groups of galpals driving their top-down Renaults down freeways to winelands, or the beach, or to clubs like Tiger Tiger, whatever gangs of women in their 20s do these days. Scary.

Groups of young, single women are the most dangerous things on the planet. What makes them more dangerous is that they move to seemingly innocuous soundtracks like this. But The Sellout is a lot smarter – and scarier - than it sounds....

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