The album's overarching sentiment gets dispensed early on in a heavy dose called "Forever Young," a glazed, blissed-out pop tune with a pressing tagline, "You used to be young, now where do you belong?" As Joakim recently told RA, these words reflect the allergy towards the grown-up comfortable life, and a skepticism that getting older means simply learning to slouch in that direction with grace. Nothing Gold exudes in several places a kind of a world-weary optimism, the kind that welcomes the possibility of new experiences even when you suspect you've reached an age where you've permanently been there, done that. "Find a Way," in particular, the account of a whirlwind, Nadja-esque love affair, brims with the kind of urgent joy exemplified when Bowie sang "we can be heroes, just for one day," its galloping rhythm and analog atmospheres conveying the feeling of your life derailed in a spine-tingling rush, a bliss that can destroy you.
As is usually the case, however, this ecstasy is a shooting star, and a good deal of Nothing Gold traffics in darker, more bitter places. There's a lot of druggy stomp, like on the Iggy Pop pastiche "Fight Club," which like its predecessor staggers with a drunken sneer, its gait traced by the limbs of a gristly, lurching machine. The use of cabaret-style piano on several tracks is well-suited for the album's expressionist soul, in which subjective emotions are writ large on the face of the world. The prime example? The title track, which utilizes beautifully-filtered ivories over a militant, robotically funky groove to make Joakim's pronouncements of lost love feel like a grey curtain of ash has been draped over the earth.