If reigning electro-pop queen Emily Haines’s sneer feels a little too contrived at times, you might want to consider swapping your Metric CD for Firefox AK’s debut. It’s true that Firefox’s vocals are weaker than Haines’s, but with less of a tough-girl front to contend with, Madame, Madame!’s lyrics, to compensate, delve deeper than just arbiting coolness. Many tracks on the disc offer up frank discussions of sexuality and relationships. Never going maudlin or pitiful, she offers up lines (like “You still get hard/you never go soft/is it me or is it all the porn you watch?” on the title track, and “She never comes/she never has in her life,” from “Cardiac Arrest”) that are equally assertive and accusatory. She even serves up themes of isolation on “City to City” and “All Those People.” The former is a sublime mixture of giddiness and nerves stemming from a nomadic existence. The latter treads the somewhat tired ground of indicting a TV-obsessed culture.
Propelling the disc along its socially-conscious course, Firefox uses simple electronic beats and minimal arrangements to give everything an austere and slightly foreboding tone. The sound of a shotgun cocking and subsequent blast of “Love to Run” sums up the musicality of the album perfectly. It might be modest in its scope and not aiming at increasing any genre lexicon, but this is some of the bleakest sentiment/sound combination to liven up the dance floor since New Order’s hey day, and that’s a fine ghost to keep alive.