For those who have questioned Macy Gray’s loopy public persona, The Id will be a confirmation of their worst fears and fantasies: the singer is criminally insane. “Gimme All Your Lovin’ or I Will Kill You” begins as a bittersweet study on the pains of unrequited love (“I been lying in all his masses/I been swimming up his stream”) but swiftly becomes a violent, albeit humorous, manifesto of aggression (“It’s amazing what a gun to the head can do”). And Gray is admittedly outside the box in more ways than one. Her self-deprecation is both sad (on the simple, acoustic guitar-based “Forgiveness”) and tongue-in-cheek (“Relating to a Psychopath”). She coyly warns an admirer and prospective love interest: “Your role model is in therapy.” Could’ve fooled me.
Gray’s “therapy,” though, is certainly sparking more of the life lessons that were only hinted at on her debut, On How Life Is, but this time there’s a bit more musical and lyrical dementia. The album explores both the Id and the Ego, with tracks like the horny funk/disco hybrid “Sexual Revolution” exuding the sexy confidence of a generally desexualized performer (thanks to “I Try”): “I’m so fucking beautiful/Especially when I take my clothes off!” Gray even attempts to spark a rebellious revolution of her own: “Your mama lied to you all this time/She knows as well as you and I/You’ve got to express what is taboo in you.” “Harry” laments on the joys and troubles of casual sex with a witty honesty set to the funk of ’70s soul, while “Oblivion,” featuring the famous Aragon Ballroom Wurlitzer, elevates samba to a whole new level of silliness: “I eat my marimbas…I tingle when I sing!”
The funk of tracks like “Oblivion” and “Revolution” make the somewhat generic sentiments of “Freak Like Me” and “Don’t Come Around” sound all the more pallid, and, at times, Gray’s distinctive voice—the thing that sets her apart from her peers—often grows irksome. Fear not, there will be hits. The Id’s first single, “Sweet Baby,” featuring Erykah Badu on backing vocals and perennial Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante on guitar, will reintroduce Gray to pop radio with its purely idealist take on unconditional love: “Sugar wishes don’t change what is real or how it feels.” And Gray has surely invested in future success with the contagious “Boo” and a rendition of Slick Rick’s “Hey Young World II,” which finds the singer embracing the time-tested notion that children are indeed the future.