Firefox AK

Madame, Madame!

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Like Toronto's Metric and Portland's the Blow, Sweden's Andrea Kellerman (aka Firefox AK) occupies a middle ground between D.I.Y. dance-pop and synth-driven, new wave-inspired indie rock. Her debut album, issued in Sweden in 2006 and picked up by Minty Fresh the following year, is flush with gleaming keyboard riffs and chunky programmed beats, but it also has a rocky grit that sets it apart from the pure pop likes of Robyn and Annie -- it's telling that Kellerman initially wrote these tunes on guitar before enlisting Viktor Ginner (of synth pop duo Rupesh Cartel) to help dress them up electro-style. It's a tremendously satisfying fusion, if not a terribly innovative one, and when combined with Kellerman's top-notch pop songwriting and her striking, girlish but powerful voice, makes for an impressive debut showing that's comparable to plenty of other artists but still retains its own distinctive flavor. Her nine solid originals (along with an edgy, driving cover of "Habibi" by the Swedish electro-house act Assid) are sweet and upbeat but not breathlessly sugary, and at their best -- as on "City to City" and "Who Can Act," with their harmonized chorus hooks, and the single "What's That Sound" -- they're instantly catchy without feeling forced or fussy. [Minty Fresh's U.S. edition adds the B-sides "Harvey" and "The Polar Bear" as bonus tracks. Both versions of the album feature the videos for "Who Can Act" and "What's That Sound."]

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