As suggested by the shift from the bright yellow-orange of Madame, Madame! to muted violet on the cover of If I Were a Melody, Andrea Kellerman's second album as Firefox AK is a markedly moodier affair than her first, simultaneously darker, edgier, and more subdued. It actually encompasses a broader emotional range, from lush, mellow material like "The River" and the nearly beatless "Shero" to the aggressive thrust of first single "Winter Rose" -- a duet with her husband Rasmus Kellerman (aka Tiger Lou), who wails the chorus hook ("Give me some pleasure/Give me some joy/Just give me something I can destroy") with a blank-eyed electro-clash angst -- and the pummeling hard house of the well-named "Techno Tears." Still, the overall effect is less immediate, and more understated, than the infectiously scrappy Madame!, which may have something to do with the relative absence of gritty, rock-styled guitars. The word "mature" feels slightly incongruous, but if nothing else Melody is more accomplished and self-assured from a musical and production standpoint -- none of it was recorded in a bedroom this time out, and it shows. Kellerman and her production/programming accomplice, Viktor Ginner, spent several months in Berlin working on the album, and they clearly soaked up a lot of inspiration from the electronic dance scene there, resulting in a decidedly modern-sounding collection of more refined (not necessarily more relaxed) beats and pieces that recall the sophisticated techno of Ellen Allien and the Kompakt stable, as well as the electro-pop of the Junior Boys (whose Matt Didemus mixed the album) and Kellerman's countrymen the Knife. None of this comes at the expense of her sumptuous way with vocal hooks -- this album has plenty of them, amply showcasing Kellerman's sublime vocals, which were either much better recorded this time or else have developed considerably (probably both). They resonate with unusual warmth against the synthetic austerity of the arrangements, especially on the poignant "Pushing," with its stirring chorus shift from minor to major, and "Flutter of a Wing," which comes closest to the simple pop pleasures of the debut despite an unsettling lyric inspired by the lack of birds during Kellerman's time in Berlin. Although it may take a few more spins to sink in, Melody is a dramatic step forward from its predecessor, a complex and rewarding effort that places Firefox AK right at forefront of modern electronic pop.
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AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman