Blink and you probably missed it, but somewhere between all the rioting and phone hacking, on a day when neither Charlie Sheen nor Muammar Gaddafi had said anything outstandingly outrageous, news was apparently slow enough to merit a few articles on the rising 'raunchiness' of popular culture, and wasn't this all just terrible, and wouldn't somebody please think of the children? This was all just grist for the mighty newsmill, of course, allowing someone at the Big British Castle to dig out that old shot of Janet Jackson's nipple and try to fashion it into something roughly resembling a current event; the gist of the argument seeming to be that parliament should pass some kind of law prohibiting Rihanna from being too sexy, lest we all start wanting to be sexy like Rihanna.

The problem with this kind of reasoning is that it engages with only a small part of what popular cultures offer. Yes, MTV sells sex, but it comes in a package deal with the slang, the clothes, the music, and the rest. MTV sells a lifestyle that is essentially unattainable, and it's not alone in that. Every aesthetic - whether unashamedly corporate or resolutely bohemian - hypothesises an ephemeral idyll and then asks us to enact it, reducing that gap between expectation and experience as much as possible, for as long as possible. Eventually, though, we know the scene will dissipate.

Having existed at the artsy periphery of the mid-noughties Indie-Electro boom, Joakim is in a perfect position to comment on its waning, and his third full-length, Nothing Gold, could well be taken partly as an elegy. Perhaps coincidentally, it's also his most thematically cogent work to date; the production has always been there, but previous efforts felt a little skittish, and it's extremely satisfying to hear it all come together.

Taking its title from a poem by Robert Burns, Nothing Gold approaches ephemerality from a number of different angles; tracks like 'Find A Way' and 'Perfect Kiss' form around recollections of past relationships, whereas first single 'Forever Young' and the title track are more explicitly about lost time. Joakim's tone seems to oscillate wildly between fond reminiscence and bitter longing – 'Find A Way' is blithe, even cheerful, but by the time we reach 'Perfect Kiss', the vocals feel a lot more dejected.

This thematic ambivalence carries forward to the instrumentation as well, and familiar sounds find themselves twisted in unfamiliar ways. The modulated tweaking and white noise of 'In The Cave' sounds right out of the Soulwax toolkit, but this is no banger, veering away at the last second into a sequence of lush piano chords. 'Forever Young' juxtaposes lyrics of alienation with a simple, child-like melody, while a pulsing high synth fades in and out of prominence, evoking a memory only hazily remembered. The 'Intro' track benefits from Joakim's previous dalliances with Krautrock, layering Tangerine Dream-y swells over one another, which waver indecisively between major and minor before disappearing back into the ether. And 'Perfect Kiss', while undoubtedly the most melancholic of the tracks on offer, is bizarrely also the one that most strongly recalls a dance track, with its 4-4 house beat.

The ambivalence works, giving the album a conflicted feel, as well as an emotional presence lacking in a lot of dance LPs. Crucially, this is not a collection of hastily gathered together singles, but a proper album – and a surprisingly high concept one at that. Just as LCD Soundsystem's superlative Losing My Edge captured the youthful arrogance of the New York scene as it was taking off, Nothing Gold makes a fair sketch of Paris in repose, and in doing so perhaps recovers some of the creativity that made it so exciting to begin with.