Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Scissor Sisters - Magic Hour (UK version) --Review--

Less than two years after their third album Night Work Scissor Sisters are back with Magic Hour...and it's all a bit...underwhelming.

I don't think Scissor Sisters are capable of making a bad album. Magic Hour is not bad, though after a few listens I find it my least favourite album of theirs so far. To a certain extent it suffers from similar issues of production kind as the new Rufus Wainwright album does. But the Sisters have it harder than Rufus: though coming from the seedy underground their music has always been very chart-friendly, and, in one form or another, pure pop. Night Work might have been a creative win but it didn't quite live up to the commercial success of its predecessors. Magic Hour partly seems to attempt to get the band back at the top of the charts, bringing on board hip producers like Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams or Diplo, and partly it's very subdued and reflective. Unfortunately, the production is also very subdued and as a result many of the songs are sold short.

The album's stand-outs are the infectious piano-lead album opener Baby Come Home, camp Let's Have A Kiki and the gorgeous "ballad with a beat" Somewhere. What do these songs have in common? With a slightly different production they would fit perfectly on the Scissor Sisters' previous albums.

Somewhere actually deserves its own paragraph, as it is my favourite song on the album. It Can't Come Quickly Enough meets Skin Tight: epic melancholia with a dance beat. It would still have been a stand-out had it appeared on any of Scissor Sisters's previous albums.

Compared to these songs...the rest of the album is a bit bland and makes you feel a bit disconcerted. Inevitable and Self Control are almost good enough to have been included on Night Work and sound a little bit like Pet Shop Boys of the Nightlife era (never a bad thing).

But that's pretty much where the enjoyment ends for me. Year of Living Dangerously and The Secret Life of Letters start with a potential to be great ballads but they never quite live up to the expectations. Keep Your Shoes On, Best In Me and the Latin-flavoured San Luis Obispo are OK tracks but not exactly very memorable or...great. They simply don't leave a deep impression. And the less said about the UK bonus song Fuck Yeah, the better. Dunno...perhaps works in a club environment?

The "proper" first single, Only the Horses, has become strangely controversial among the band's fan base. Why? It's a great pop song, it has a rousing, anthemic melody...but it's also a bit generic and, simply, it could be anybody's song. If the band's signature instrument, a piano, that is, weren't featured it could easily be a Rihanna song. I personally like this song a lot but I also understand why many aren't that enamoured with it.

Magic Hour is not a bad album but it is an album of many missed opportunities and generic beats. Who knows, maybe it's a grower but Scissor Sisters's standard has been set so ridiculously high since they entered the music scene, the new album has sadly ended up being a bit of a disappointment.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Kris Allen - Thank You Camelia (Deluxe Version) --Review--

I'm going to echo my review of Adam Lambert's new album here a bit. While Kris's eponymous release was not a bad album, or even completely average (mostly thanks to the heart and soul he puts into his singing), there was definitely room for improvement (less intrusive production, more song-writing input from Kris).

Thank You Camelia is much more cohesive than Kris's first album, he's co-written all of the songs and a great majority of them is in an upbeat tempo - which was the biggest and nicest surprise for me. It's an ideal album for summer, still it has depth, heart and even a little bit of edge.

Kris is not someone who'd want to change the landscape of pop. His musicianship is not radical or revolutionary but he's improved as a songwriter in these past few years and the album definitely reflects that. All of the songs have hit potential, if given chance and the right promotion. Kris's song-writing and musicianship are actually quite timeless: his ability to capture audience with an acoustic performance harkens back to the art of medieval minstrels and such, the fact he plays the piano and guitar, arguably two of the most commonly played instruments of the past few centuries, is actually a plus. He is an every-man who can write catchy pop songs but who doesn't need any gimmicks to present them to people. And he has the ability to win over listeners who would not think they'd enjoy all this MOR singer-songwriter-y stuff. I'm a case in point, to a certain extent.

Thank You Camelia's first single (track no. 2 on the album) is The Vision of Love, a catchy upbeat song with lyrics that will actually make you think about your life and deeds.

I don't wanna run, I don't wanna hide
When someone needs somebody
I don't wanna say, I don't got the time
When someone needs somebody

I'd like to think this is the kind of song that might make a few people do something nice for someone, no preaching needed.

Other highlights on the upbeat front: the whistling My Weakness, and hip-hop-influenced Rooftops, which both should be singles. These two are insanely catchy and just really positive without ever sliding into cheesiness.

The album opener Better With You, piano and drums-driven Out Alive and Blindfolded (the latter featuring a very strong chorus), tender acoustic Teach Me How Love Goes (featured in my recent Top 5 Songs post) and Loves Me Not (a duet with female singer Meiko) are "growers" but all great pop songs.

The regular version of Thank You Camelia ends with an outstanding piano ballad called You Got A Way. It's almost as good as Haley Reinhart's Undone and I Need To Know, the closing track of Kris's eponymous album.

The only two songs that have yet not grown on me are Monster, an edgier mid-tempo weird animal of a pop-rock song (imagine Maroon 5 experiencing a PMS), and the second ballad on the album: Leave You Alone, which is sweet but not quite there.

The deluxe version features three more tracks: a very strong, upbeat Turn the Pages which would have been good enough for inclusion on the regular version; Fighters which has a memorable chorus but is as a whole a bit clichéd, which makes it an ideal bonus material. And finally there's a remix of The Vision of Love. Oh how I wish The Sound of Arrows did a remix of this song (check out their remix of Maroon 5's Payphone)....because Maison and Dragon Radio Remix definitely is not the shit.

All in all, a recommended (not only) summer listen. Give it a try even if you thing MOR singer-songwriter-y is not for you. Kris has a way of pleasantly surprising people if given the chance.

Friday, 25 May 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs XIV

My favourite songs this week...are all surprisingly tender. And then there is Bowie croaking about shit.

Adam Lambert - Outlaws of Love

Since this week Adam has become the first openly gay artist to top the US album chart, it only felt right to include this song here.

nowhere to grow old
and always on the run
they say we'll rot in hell
but I don't think we will
they've branded us enough
Outlaws of Love

Apart from its message (which can be applied to any sort of minority, really) Outlaws is simply a gorgeous ballad, maybe reminiscent of Muse a tiny bit. Definitely a recommended listen.

Haley Reinhart - Undone

This is Lady Reinhart showing her tender side. Undone is the only ballad on her dabut album (my review here, if you will). I'm not a ballad person but this one totally gets me. Great song (melody as well as lyrics), great vocal...a potential hit for sure!

Kris Allen - Teach Me How Love Goes

Kris's sophomore album came out the same day as Haley's debut. I plan on writing a review over the weekend but for now I can say, just like Haley's album...Kris's Thank You Camelia was made for summer days. Uplifting, upbeat, full of catchy songs...so much so that Teach Me How Love Goes got lost a bit on it when I gave the album the first listen. And just when I was about to skip the rest of the song I had to stop...because the song just quietly grabbed me. It made me listen. So even though there are happy, literally whistling songs on the album, this one decided to take residence in my heart and it's not moving anywhere any time soon.

Stephen Sondheim by way of Helena Bonham Carter - Wait

Oh, if only Sweeney had taken Mrs. Lovett's advice...or just plainly fallen in love with her and stopped with his doomed revenge. Oh well.

I love Tim Burton's version of this (literally) bloody Stephen Sondheim musical. I'm not very well versed in musical, mind you...but I love the Sweeney songs. I'm even more impressed by Sondheim considering he writes his own (amazing) lyrics (I can definitely see and hear his influence in both music and lyrics of the Pet Shop Boys). Wait is not quite the example of Sondheim's clever and witty lyrical prowess but its melody is gorgeous.

The whole musical is great and all of the actors in the film version do a great job with this beautiful but very technically difficult material. Helena Bonham Carter is not a singer at all, but in this song she shows such vulnerability, that you forget, for two minutes and a half, that her character is a mass murderer who turns Londoners into cannibals.

I can't even describe the feelings the

I've been thinkin' flowers,
maybe daisies,
to brighten up the room!
don't you think some flowers,
pretty daisies,
might relieve the gloom?
ah, wait,
love, wait.

part wakes up in me. Those are some clever, effective notes, Steve! So beautiful I weep inside.

Also a pretty good lullaby material, don't you think.

Tin Machine - I Can't Read Shit

Right. Pushing Ahead of the Dame is responsible for this one. I probably would not have come up with listening to a Tin Machine song on my own. But I have to admit, this is a pretty good song. A third one I've added to my iPod since my favourite Bowie blog started analysing the Tin Machine era of Bowie's output, and the one I actually listen to the most.

Andy, where's my fifteen minutes?

I can't read shit anymore
I just sit back and ignore
I just can't get it right, can't get it right.

Haley Reinhart - Listen Up! (Deluxe) --Review--

Haley Reinhart's debut album is a joy to listen to. Simple as that. Review over. (You wish!)

Listen Up! is very sexy, in a sultry, old glamour way. But unlike Lana Del Rey, whose persona is a Greta Garbo on pills, Haley is not pretending to star in a David Lynch film. She's effortlessly sensual and you can hear it all over the album.

Haley possesses a beautiful voice which has many shades and flavours. From a clear coo to throaty growl. She can belt, and she can whisper. And she sounds like no-one else. My dear mother, who loves music but unlike me doesn't spend much time thinking about it, can always 100% recognise Haley when I play her - which REALLY means something.

Because Haley is such a great vocalist and an amazing live singer, I was really worried that her voice would end up sounding less rich and much more processed on the album (as is the norm in pop these days) but I needn't have worried. While the production is slick, you can still tell Haley is an exceptional singer.

Not only that, she's also a good songwriter: all of the songs on Listen Up! were co-written by her (except for the first single Free), and well...the songs are better than good. Catchy, sexy, timeless, with a retro sheen.

Oh My! is a little sauce-pot, and even B.O.B.'s (not particularly inventive) guest rap surprisingly fits the tasteful raciness of the record very well. Free was love on first listen for me. Months later I still harbour deep feelings towards this song. I can even sing along! Yes, you can tell it was not written by the same songwriter as the rest of the album, but which talent show alum gets to have their debut single this good and reflective of their future sound? I think Haley, who had to choose her first single before she even got to start working on the album, chose very, very well.

Wasted Tears and Hit The Ground Runnin' have already been featured on my blog before when their acoustic versions emerged on YouTube. Their studio versions are even better. Original, conflicted but at the same time uplifting. Keep Coming Back is a song in a similar vein to those two, only gutsier, edgier and a bit harder.

Wonderland and Walking On Heaven have a 60's meets 90's vibe. The good sort of 90's vibe. Wonderland is in fact my favourite Haley-penned non-ballad on the album...a fact that surprises me somewhat. The song is so smooth and feel-good. That sort of vibe is SO not me!

Undone, a gorgeous ballad. I only felt its impact properly on about the third listen...but boy, it was quite an impact! I rarely listen to ballads, and I have to commend Haley for including just one on Listen Up! If Kelly Clarkson released this single today, it would be a sure hit. I hope Haley releases it at some point, if given the right airplay and promotion it could be a worldwide hit.

There are two songs I'm less enthusiastic about compared to the whole record: Liar and Now That You're Here. Though it's a personal preference only. Objectively I can't find anything wrong with them...

A few words on the bonus songs: Follow Me (I'm Right Behind You) has very cool verses, unfortunately its chorus never really goes anywhere. Spiderweb is more rock than any of the songs on the regular album...a solid bonus song material. What You Don't Know wouldn't have fit on the regular version of Listen Up! either, this time because it's very 70's disco. Let's Run Away is the best of the extra songs: it's very joyous and sweet, in a good way. A feel good song featuring an ukulele which would make a great track no. 11 on the regular album. An ideal closing track.

Haley Reinhart's debut album Listen Up! sounds every bit Haley-an. You can hear Dusty Springfield and 60's girl bands influences, yet the album ends up feeling timeless, and...modern. And hot.

A recommended listen for sunny summer days of 2012 and many years to come.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Adam Lambert - Trespassing (Deluxe version), Review

Trespassing is a nice surprise. When it comes to cohesiveness, it's definitely a step-up from Adam's debut (which I reviewed when it came out & have to say 3 years later, I like For Your Entertainment better then I did then). I kept my expectations low for the new album: whenever an artist takes a lot of time to make an album and postpones the release to make tweaks I tend to be disappointed with the over-produced result (Kate Bush is an exception here, she can take as much time as she wants).

I listened to Adam a lot in 2009 but then he drifted off my radar. It wasn't until summer last year I started listening to his first album again. I dug it out when I needed something to listen to while cleaning up. I have no idea what I was actually cleaning that day but I remember realising I pretty much liked most of the songs on For Your Entertainment. It turned out it was the right time for Adam to get back on my music radar because the new album was in the works.

While I have nothing against the first single, Better Than I Know Myself, and I understand the reasoning behind releasing exactly this song several months before the album, I can't say I was not a bit underwhelmed by it, and that it didn't make me a bit worried about the quality of Adam's new album and his career as a whole.

When you play the album from start to finish, the first song - Trespassing (which presumably gave name to the whole collection) - jumps at you and proceeds to dispel any worry about Adam's future, or the future of mainstream pop music as a whole. The album is very dance-oriented, and as a whole leaves an upbeat, sexy impression. At first I wasn't sure about the Nile Rodgers & Sam Sparro collaboration called Shady, but even this song eventually won me over. It could probably be placed further on the tracklist, it slows down the tempo of the record after two dance anthems (the title track and Cuckoo), but there's no denying this piece is very sexy.

There's only one song on the dance-y half which leaves me a bit underwhelmed: Pop That Lock is too generic to really catch my attention. I'd gladly trade this song for a mid-tempo, but much better, Runnin' (more on that song later).

I have to confess, I've been listening to the album for over a week now, and I tend to skip the slower songs. Yes, there are slower songs here, but they are not as boring as I initially expected them to be. Now, there's nothing wrong with ballads, and Adam can certainly sing them brilliantly, but I personally am not a fan of Adam + heartfelt ballad (I realise I'm in the minority here). The best ballad on the album would be Outlaws of Love which is all about the LGBTQ plight in the USA. I heard the song in an acoustic piano-lead version, and I have to say I prefer that one to the studio version, but there's no denying the song's really, really good either way.

If I had to divide the songs on Trespassing into groups, "yay" "ney" and "meh", the "ney" group would be empty. Even the weakest song, which for me is Broken English (cute concept but the music takes turns in boring and annoying me), doesn't provoke any stronger feelings in me beyond the need to skip it.

I know a lot of fans are really into Underneath, another of the slower songs placed on the second part of the album. I really want to like this song, but I gave it several tries and liking is still not happening. All in all I have to say since I was so worried about not liking this slower, introspective part of the album, I was only pleasantly surprised - liking three (Better..., Chokehold & aforementioned Outlaws...) of five songs is a pretty good score.

At this point I'd like to write a few words about the bonus songs on Trespassing's deluxe version. The stand-out, hands down, is Runnin': a mid-tempo drama-fest (in the best possible way), which was probably left off the regular version of the album because it was a bit different from the other songs. By no means is it a weak song, though. On the contrary, without a doubt, it's one of the best original songs Adam's ever recorded.

In case of the other two bonus songs (Take Back and Nirvana) it's pretty obvious they didn't get on the regular Trespassing because they are just good enough. Not bad, I'd like to point out, but simply not as good as 90% of the album.

Trespassing is a good, logical progression of Adam's musical development. More cohesive than its predecessor, more dance/pop oriented and it manages to sound current but showcase Adam's incredible vocal abilities at the same time. It's not a flawless album but the more I think about my very favourites and their albums, the more I realise not even them - The Beatles, Kate Bush, David Bowie, Pet Shop Boys, Marc Almond - came up with flawless albums at this point of their career, or...ever. And really, who needs flawless?

Friday, 18 May 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs XIII

Another Friday, another five songs I found the most interesting this past week. Includes songs from two new albums I'd like to review in the next few days, if my study commitments allow. It's Adam Lambert's second album Trespassing, and Iggy Pop's recent album of covers, Apres.

Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra - Do It With A Rockstar

Three words: this shit rocks.

If you like this, go pledge on Amanda's Kickstarter project, and preorder the album from which this song's taken.

Adam Lambert - Trespassing

Since this album's been released this Tuesday I've been listening to the dance-y songs a lot. Trespassing is a stomp your feet, shake your butt, nod your head sort of dance pop amazingness. If you like pop music, you'll love this, doesn't matter if you know Adam or not.

Wild at Heart - Darling

Darling, don't get over me
Get under me instead

This song's not out yet but Wild at Heart were so kind they sent the song to me after I asked them on Twitter when the song's gonna be released. :) How amazing is that? Been on my iPod on a loop this week. Brilliant Swedish pop, what else can I say.

Scissor Sisters - Only the Horses

More great dance pop. I own all Scissor Sisters albums, can't wait for the new one. Judging from the first (proper) single, I do have stuff to look forward to...

Iggy Pop - I'm Going Away Smiling

Iggy's self-released an album of croon-y covers last week, and this is probably the youngest song on it. Written by Yoko Ono, you can find her original version on the 2009 album Between My Head and the Sky. Though I'm a huge fan of The Beatles, I'm not so much into John Lennon's solo stuff, let alone very familiar with Yoko's music (I find her voice pretty much unlistenable). So I had no idea she could actually write a song as good as this one. And Iggy definitely sells it. I can imagine only one person singing it better - and that's Marc Almond. (btw, Needs. to. Happen.)

Saturday, 12 May 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs XII

Icona Pop - I Love It

you're from the 70's but I'm a 90's bitch

Swedes know how to make pop. Right, this song was actually written by a British chick BUT my point is Icona Pop are very pop, very catchy but also very smart with their choices. This is the first song of theirs I heard but I subsequently checked out the ones on their previous EP and hell, these girls are good!

Plus, I totally have a crush on Aino Jawo now. Just look at her:

Adam Lambert - Runnin

A few days ago I listened to a stream of Adam's upcoming album Trespassing and I pretty much liked what I heard...but Runnin has just stuck with me the most. It's no secret I prefer singers with low voices, so it's perhaps not such a surprise I find Adam's voice in the verses sexy. A great, dramatic song (drama in music, but not in life, is what I like)...and it's only a bonus song! Is Adam going to follow the example of the Pet Shop Boys and save the best songs for b-sides and bonus material, from now on? Well as long as the songs do get to see the light of day I don't really care how it's done.

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (Living in the Material World version)

I tend to prefer simple/demo versions to finished songs sometimes, and while I love the final version of All Things Must Pass I probably like this and the Anthology versions of this song even better. The song itself...its lyrics are a testament to George's songwriting talents. I already mentioned here a a month or two ago that I think George was the best lyricist in the Beatles. Here you see why. Simple, effective and conveying a message that's literally timeless.

Marc Almond - A Woman's Story

Last week was a pretty interesting one for fans of Marc. That's all I'm gonna say. I was already too depressed to listen to Marc and the Mambas' Torment and Toreros this week but this 1986 cover of a song originally recorded by Cher in the mid-70's is pretty much what the doctor ordered. Btw, Marc totally owns this song. Nothing against Cher, I love her voice, but Marc just sells this one better.

Amanda Palmer (feat. Brian Viglione) - In My Mind

Amanda's been in the "press" (or rather all over the internet) with her success Kickstarter story this week. I've been a fan of her for about 7 years now (in April it had been exactly 6 years since I first saw her live with the Dresden Dolls). What can I say, I can hardly think of another artist who would be capable of pulling off something like this. She might be a crazy artist person but she's also a hard worker and has amazing "people skills". So good for her.

This is one of my all-time-favourite Amanda songs. Enjoy, and if it makes you choked up a bit or full-on cry, don't fight it. It's all right.

Friday, 4 May 2012

This Week's Top 5 Songs XI

I've been listening to everything and nothing this week, so this post is going to be a bit...lacking conviction, maybe. It's going to be a bit Loki (or is it low-key?). I'm sorry, I'm still buzzing from the Avengers...

Anyhoo, thanks to my iPod, thisisMyJam and my last.fm for helping me out with this one.

Adam Lambert - Never Close Our Eyes

Adam's upcoming single from his second album (out May 15). I've been aware of this Bruno Mars-penned song for a while but I have to say it wasn't until seeing Adam's live performance of it on Kimmel, that I fully and properly fell in love with this damn song. It's in the same vein as Rihanna's We Found Love. Yes, I've heard better, smarter pop songs but these things are just so damn catchy. It's the "NEVER!" bit which "makes" this song for me.

Rufus Wainwright - Candles

You can find this - for lack of better words - beautiful song on Rufus's newest album Out of the Game. It's about Rufus dealing with the grief after his mother's death. The churches have run out of candles is a powerful line on its own. He truly is one of the best songwriters ever. When it comes to Rufus, there's no "overrated" (but don't tell him, his ego might Hulk-out).

Couldn't find a full-lenght studio version of this song but check out this gorgeous live version.

Loretta Lynn & Jack White - Portland Oregon

I've still been listening to Jack's new album a lot this week but I've decided to include this duet he recorded with his idol Loretta Lynn for an album he produced for her 8 years ago. A minute and a half of an instrumental intro followed by a few simple lines about (drunk) man meeting (drunk) woman in the city of Portland, Oregon. I don't listen to country much but man, been in love with this song for many years and since I got myself the whole album recently I've been listening to this quite a lot this week. Would fit on Jack's new album well.

Girls Aloud - Sound of the Underground

Whenever I do something like getting dressed or showering I play the "pop" playlists on my iPod...and this song is featured on both of them. So I sort of end up listening to it on daily basis, and sometimes I even sing along. It's as good as a girlband pop song can get. Can't believe it's been 10 years since it was released. Time flies!

Dusty Springfield - Give Me Time

Wow, what a voice. Just last night I watched the newest round of American Idol performances and my favourite guhrl Skylar Laine sang a countrified version You Don't Have To Say You Love Me...and didn't quite pull it off, in my opinion. So I went and listened to a couple of Dusty's songs and realised...almost no-one has a chance in comparison with her. Dusty's records are perfect but at the same time full of character. She did have an infuriating habit of recording songs one syllable at a time, so no wonder it's hard to compete with her in a live setting, but still...more than any of the later divas like Whitney, Mariah or Beyoncé, Dusty's voice just features something earthly and otherwordly at the same time. It's a voice of mystery.

Give Me Time is not as popular as some of the other songs she's recorded but for some reason it has always been my favourite. It's not as obvious, but it's still regal and desperate at the same time.

The Avengers Review [contains spoilers]

I used to be a film snob. Up until just a few years ago I wouldn't watch a superhero film no matter how good everyone said it was. So I passed on Spider-Man, the X Men, the first of the new Batman films (I later only watched it because of Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine). But then I got into my 20's and realised life's too short to be snobby about things. Music, film and TV are here to be enjoyed. So fuck what everyone says and just enjoy. I do still tend to not watch what the majority regards as waste of time, just not very good or flat out bad. But my point is, with starting to watch everything Star Trek-related thanks to my friends & the arrival of Iron Man a few years ago, I gave into my childhood fascination with sci-fi and started to slowly include superhero films into my to-watch list.

I don't necessarily enjoy them all. I can appreciate the thought and skill which went into the new Batman films but hell, I did not enjoy them. Can't think of another superhero who is more bland than Christian Bale's version of this hero. And I do like Bale's acting in other films, included Nolan-directed ones. On the other hand I really liked Michael Keaton's Batman in Tim Burton's adaptations. Both films had its pluses and minuses (did both villains really have to be that disgusting?) but as a whole I prefer them to Nolan's more perfect and better thought out films.

But I digress. I mentioned Iron Man earlier: this film and this character were an induction to the Marvel universe for me. Apart from Donald the Duck and a Czech comic about a group of four animals I never read any comics (I still don't, heck I barely have time to read my fiction and non-fiction books and the two magazines I subscribe to), so I literally have zero knowledge about the characters portrayed in the new Marvel films, beyond what's presented in the films.

Therefore what I've come to expect from these films is intelligent fun: good action (that even someone like me, who gets easily bored by endless fight scenes, can enjoy), witty and smart dialogues, great actors and easy-to follow (for someone with little comic book knowledge) story*. The Avengers features all of the above in best possible quality.

Hell, I want to re-watch the whole film for the dialogues and one-liners alone. Joss Whedon definitely wrote a brilliant script. While I love his Buffy and Dollhouse TV shows I'm definitely not a devout follower. I don't agree with all of the plot developments in Buffy, and I don't think storytelling is necessarily Joss's strongest point BUT he was the ideal guy for the job of breathing modern life into The Avengers. He can do ensemble and he can make sure each of the characters gets enough screen time. His dialogues and quips are legendary. He's the master of detail. And as far as I can tell, he can do action.

Sure enough, while the story of The Avengers is very simple, it's the witty bits, the dialogues and action where the film excels. With this script it would be hard for this film to fail completely, even with bad actors. But all of the main actors are more than just capable, the ensemble actually includes several Oscar nominees and also one lean mean British Shakespearean actor. Each and every one of them balance the wits, the action and the darker and/or emotional moments perfectly.

Talking about darker moments... [SPOILER AHEAD] The film's villain Loki (about whom you could write an essay, what an interesting, layered character he is) killed our beloved Agent Phil Coulson, though largely Coulson's own fault, his death was not in vain, it became a totally understandable fuel for the Avengers stopping their petty fights and actually assembling. Phil will sure be missed though. Loki, brilliantly played by Tom Hiddleston, can kill many civilians, as well as "good" soldiers but him killing Coulson is the point of no return. Or is it?

I hope there will be a sequel to The Avengers but unless Joss is involved again, at least in writing the script, I probably would choose not to see it. The Avengers is as good as superhero films with multiple heroes can be. It will be hard to follow it up with something equally good and I'm not sure I'd trust anyone else with that task.

As long as Marvel produces films like these there's no way I could go back to being a Dogme 95 film snob again. (Kidding, I never was that kind of freak.)

*except for Captain America...didn't expect much and got even less.