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Album review: 'Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers'

April 20, 2011 |  4:25 pm

Gleewarblers Another week, another “Glee” release. The smash music-driven TV series has set so many records on the pop charts that its most recent sales milestone is sure to be surpassed by the time you read this -- and the Dalton Academy Warblers will probably have something to do with it.

The Warblers are actually a rival singing group to New Directions, the high-school glee club that features the show’s main characters, with the primary distinction being that the Warblers are all male. That makes for some amusing gender reversals on their first album collection, as when the Warblers tackle the likes of Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The latter actually gets transformed by the soulful testosterone crooning; think the Killers meet Sigur Rós meets the Jonas Brothers, if you will. Train’s ubiquitous modern-rock smash “Hey, Soul Sister” also receives an unexpectedly appealing makeover, with the Warblers giving it the effortless buoyancy of a Bruno Mars radio hit.

At their best, per “Glee” tradition, the Warblers’ cover versions can reveal the real craft behind bulletproof pop constructions. But removed from the narrative thrust of the show, these renditions can prove a little much. The gimmick of these suburban voices taking on an urban track such as Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone,” for example, verges on too cute. Takes on Maroon 5’s “Misery” and Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” don’t really add much to the originals; an even schmaltzier rendition of Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” just seems, well, silly.

Of course, one doesn’t come to “Glee” compilations for music’s cutting edge, but when the formula works, it can prove surprisingly enjoyable, and allow a familiar song to be heard in a new way. When it doesn’t, the results make clear that, as central as the music is, “Glee” remains primarily a TV show before a listening experience.

-- Matt Diehl

"Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers"
Two stars