"The Avengers" Sucks, Twice

The soundtrack is about as entertaining as the movie.

So, "The Avengers" (the movie, that is) sucks. Big deal. Sure, it would have been nice to see Uma kick some ass in that rubber thing she wears, but cinematic disasters don't really get me all worked up. Besides, the soundtrack should be worth something, right? I mean, even "City of Angels" gave us "Iris." And The Avengers soundtrack is plenty hip: in addition to usual suspects like Suggs (late of Madness), Diswalla, Verve Pipe and Ashtar Command (with members from Filter, Yum-Yum and Veruca Salt),

scary disco diva Grace Jones makes an appearance, as does now-you-see-me, now-you-don't reclusive Pope-hater Sinead O'Connor. And, of course, there's a trendy, techno-styled remake of "The Avengers" TV theme song from long ago.

Sadly, The Avengers title-track is no Mission Impossible-flavored

adrenaline-fest, and Grace Jones works better as an ironic memory than as an actual artist. The Avengers does have a handful of decent tracks, but the disappointments more than outweigh the triumphs on this heavily techno-influenced, slightly campy effort.

DeVries' take on the theme song is a sorry premonition of what's to come. Shooting for an ironic techno marriage of camp and club, "The Avengers Theme" ends up sounding like the music to a new video game. Too chaotic and orchestral to be a club hit, it's no accident that Avengers previews don't make DeVries theme a musical reference point.

I should have taken it as an omen when my stereo kept shutting off every time the disc came to Grace Jones' (teamed up with the Radio Science Orchestra) bombastic "Storm." With violin-crescendos, cheesy wah-wah guitars and a Las Vegas-style horn section, "Storm" sounds like the theme-song to a Roger Moore-era James Bond flick ... which, coincidentally, is the last time I remember Jones trying for an in through the movies. Suggs' "I Am" is a disappointing, ska-flavored, Madness-referencing cookie-cutter track, and the Verve Pipes' "Blow You Away" is so uninvolved it sounds as though it was cut during a snack break. More traditional techno tracks like the Utah Saints' "Technowledgy" and Sugar Ray's "Burnin' Dog (Don't Pet A)" are fine, but nothing more.

Still, only a total idiot could make an album with 14 different artists and have the whole thing suck. Merz's "Many Weathers Apart," powered by a pounding drum-line and Merz's trademark asexual, panting/bleating, is a good track, and the buzzed-guitar line that previews Ashtar Command's "Solve My Problem Today" is the beginning of a shimmering, ecstatic cut. Another relative high point is Babybird's rollicking, relentless "Bad Twin." Dishwalla's languid "Truth Serum" is fine, but no great shakes; Annie Lenox's cover of Bjork's "Mama" shows off her versatile voice, but

again, is not the kind of hit that's going to have you rushing out to Tower.

In the end, the highlights don't make up for the disappointments, and there aren't any real "must-have" songs on this soundtrack. Even Sinead's pairing with Ashtar Command on the album-closing "Summer's End" only offers small-scale pleasures. Overly sentimental and treacly, Sinead's wondrous voice combined with Ashtar Command's rising, climatic backing ensure that "Summer's End" has its moments, with Sinead sounding more Lion and

Cobra-like than she has in awhile.

So as a whole the album's not bad, but neither is it worth wasting $15 on.