Considering the musical focus of the hit television show Glee, it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the actors, Mark Salling, has been involved in music off the set.
It might be for the best, however, if the musical aspect of his career remains within the confines of the show. Salling, who is known for playing Noah “Puck” Puckerman on Glee, recently released his solo album, Pipe Dreams, which is an unfortunately fitting title for an album full of characterless, forgettable songs.
Pipe Dreams has a mellow, soft-rock, singer-songwriter vibe that brings no urgency to the music and an earnest atmosphere that lets the listeners know just how serious Salling is about every cheesy song on the album.
In addition to the songs being unfulfilling, the lyrics are strange and distractingly wordy — occasionally cringe-inducing — the instrumentals are nothing special and Salling’s vocals are weak at best. All together, the album is simply bad. It’s like burnt toast — it might have had some potential before but now there’s nothing that can make it better.
The album starts off with the underwhelming “Migration,” which is the only song listeners need to hear, because every song on Pipe Dreams sounds exactly like the one that comes before it.
Salling introduces listeners to his puzzling lyrical style with lines about “metaphors,” “dinosaurs” and “proclamations.” The lyrics are entertaining in their own right, but only because they are awkward, bizarre and excessively wordy.
The third song, “Higher Power,” is an OK song, but that might just be within the context of the album. It’s arguably the best song on Pipe Dreams, which doesn’t give it much credit, but it has some potential, the instrumental work is alright and it has the best melody.
In fact, the melody sounds like a lethargic copy of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” which is a good explanation for why it’s enjoyable at all.
Unfortunately, the underwhelmingly bland first three tracks do nothing to prepare listeners for “Mary Poppins.”
With cringe-worthy lyrics such as Why can’t I believe in Mary Poppins? delivered in Salling’s raspy, nasally, earnest croon, this song might drive buyers to dump the entire CD straight into the trash. The lyrics are beyond cheesy and, sadly for Salling, the song sounds like a joke that went horribly wrong.
The rest of the album is unremarkable, but not as awful as “Mary Poppins.”
“Musical Soulmate” is a sleepy lullaby while “Illusions” sounds like a bad Maroon 5 cover with a psychedelic twist and awkward tempo changes.
In “Doppelganger,” Salling manages to rip off Sugar Ray while also deviating into some pseudo-rapping that sounds oddly similar to both Crazy Town and Aaron Carter at the same time.
Pipe Dreams lacks its own distinct musical style and instead sounds as if it were influenced by an agglomeration of artists such as Pearl Jam, Sublime, Beck and the Beatles. Even Salling himself described the musical style on his album as “kind of all over the place” in an interview with Idolator.com.
The album ends on a more underwhelming note than it begins on with the final song, “Fugitive,” leaving listeners with the feeling that they sat through an unfinished basement demo.
Even after two full listens, it’s still nearly impossible to distinguish the songs from one another and remember the individual melodies. Every song leaves something to be desired in terms of creativity.
Although it’s not surprising that Salling’s music sounds different from the songs he sings on Glee, people familiar with the show will probably feel let down.
Following popular Glee performances of songs such as “Sweet Caroline,” “The Lady is a Tramp” and “Only the Good Die Young,” which were upbeat and suited his vocal range, Salling’s album is especially disappointing.
Pipe Dreams certainly isn’t the worst album ever made, but it definitely is not anything above downright awful. It’s bland and absolutely forgettable — at least most listeners will want to forget it. If they don’t pull faces and roll their eyes while listening to this album, then they’re not listening properly.
Despite his solo effort, Salling is better off doing karaoke for the Auto-Tune gods of Glee.