Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Macy Gray: The Sellout [Concord, 2010]
Not beat-oriented--it's back to the songwriting basics, by Gray alone on dynamite opener and closer. Not mega-targeted--it's niched toward an older audience that buys physical albums, a cohort this sexed-up, 42-year-old mother of three knows better than she lets on. But in its double-down on the chorus parts of old-fashioned verse-chorus-verse after verse-chorus-verse, it could almost be The E.N.D. As with the Black Eyed Peas, Gray's aesthetic strategy is a commercial strategy because she no longer thinks there's much difference. For those of us who've always loved her voice and shrugged off its thematic accoutrements, this is what the 2007 bellyflop Big meant to be; it's the Macy Gray album we didn't know we were dreaming of. And when she declares the guy who started killing her softly in the library her "personal president of the United States," we're glad for the thematic bonus. A-