Thank heaven Kurt finally broached the subject with Blaine, that he was hogging the spotlight in the Dalton Academy Warblers — the preppy, preposterous rivals of the New Directions show choir on Fox’s “Glee” TV series. Too late, though, now there’s an entire album of him doing just that: “Glee: The Music presents the Warblers,” out Tuesday.
Darren Criss, who plays smug charm-bot Blaine, is the least convincing teenager on TV. But the boy can punch a melody, and the arrangements and backup voices of the Beelzebubs, Tufts University’s male vocal group, help make all-male a cappella music somehow relevant enough for contemporary pop radio. On a few occasions they even top it — the Warblers’ performances of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” greatly outshine the originals.
Then again, over the course of 13 tracks the Warblers’ gimmick just as often degrades into laughable self-parody. The glossy, sexless slink through Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” is a classic “Glee” overshoot — landing somewhere between Bobby McFerrin and a bad ABBA tribute group — and it’s not an easy task to make Keane sound more twee than they already are, but the Warblers do so ably on “Somewhere Only We Know.” Sometimes, though, the level of vocal talent and the right tone (more goo-goo eyes, less hot-shot) connect in context and produce a sublime new take on “Silly Love Songs.”