CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seth MacFarlane, creator and star of TV's animated hits "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show," is known for two things: a sense of humor so black it makes the British wince and his sultry Frank Sinatra-esque voice.For his debut album, "Music is Better than Words," MacFarlane crafts a love letter to the Big Band genre. But is it a serious attempt at a record or a way for MacFarlane to cash in on his fame?The 14 tracks include classics like "It's Anybody's Spring" by Bing Crosby and "Something Good" from "The Sound of Music." Also featured is "She's Wonderful Too," a song that originally appeared in the '90s TV show "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."The album could actually work, but sadly, MacFarlane's voice is both a blessing and a curse.
Anyone who listens to the songs will no doubt giggle at the fact that it's basically Brian from "Family Guy" singing jazz, but that's hardly an issue for the performer. Rather, it's something the audience will have to get over. They'll have to realize that -- shockingly! -- people have multiple talents.It's the word "talent," though, that is the problem with "Music is Better than Words."
MacFarlane can sing, there's no doubt about it. Countless "Family Guy" episodes have included musical numbers to give the admitted cast showoff a chance to wow viewers with his vocal talents. On this album, however, MacFarlane sounds more like he wants to parody the artists he's covering rather than put his own spin on their works.Perhaps this was intentional. MacFarlane has respect for the music industry, and it would make sense that he'd feel guilty if he tried to outshine his idols. When listening to the album, you get the feeling that he's holding back.Even his duets with Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles sound hilariously boring. The two female vocalists barely put any energy into their tracks and sound fantastic; paired with MacFarlane, they sound like true angels."Music is Better than Words" feels more like a novelty CD than the debut album of a new singer. It exists only for people to pull out at parties and say, "Hey, do you want to hear the dude from 'Family Guy' imitate Sinatra?"This is truly a shame because MacFarlane has given outstanding vocals on his TV shows. It's baffling that he sounds more comedic on his CD than his programs."Music is Better than Words" is a horrible album, and it's made worse by the fact that it could have been a truly wonderful homage to a classic era of music.