Toro y Moi were at the forefront of the chillwave scene a few years back, alongside Neon Indian and Washed Out, although the man behind the music, Chaz Bear, rejected attempts to pigeonhole his musical offerings. Chillwave was something of a fairly nebulous ‘microgenre’ with poorly defined parameters but that’s to be expected in the age of meme culture and soundbite knowledge. Regardless of his refusal to accept the label, Toro y Moi’s output remains focused on those aspects of chillwave which make most sense in terms of forming a cohesive identity for a number of disparate musical acts – one eye on nostalgia, a summery feel and a pop sensibility. All are abundantly evident on Outer Peace, the sixth album from Toro y Moi, with just a dash of added funk and R&B. The former serves the party atmosphere of some of the tracks well, the latter is a hindrance to the personal element of the album, as Bear relies far too heavily on auto-tune which belies the supposed personal themes of the lyrics.

‘Fading’, the album’s opener, is glorious and sets the tone for the lighter elements of the album to good effect. There is much on this track which will sound familiar to fans of Toro y Moi – time-stretched backing vocals, skittish programmed percussion and washed out keyboards. The subject matter of the lyrics is a little vague; on the first few plays the listener would be forgiven for thinking that it was a basic “love at first sight” tale, but there is an alternate reading of new temptation killing an already established relationship. This double-play continues on the next track, ‘Ordinary Pleasure’, which is the real earworm of this collection and comes across as a hybrid jam between Metronomy and later period LCD Soundsystem. It’s a party tune filled with self-doubt and angst, with Bear’s lyrics asserting that “Sometimes I don't understand what I'm saying/ So it’s fine if you gotta get away.” The song’s overall despondency is hidden behind the disco beat and funk-infused bassline, the nostalgic musical elements rendering the almost doleful vocal delivery to a secondary position in the mix. The heat of the disco inferno is turned up even further on the James Murphy namechecking ‘Laws of the Universe’, which borrows knowingly from the tone and timbre of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

Album highlight ‘Miss Me’ features ABRA on vocals, and the track languidly reveals at its essence the story of a suitor reassuring their potential lover. There is an intoxicating quality to the vocals which lures the listener in, like the mythological Sirens tempting their pray to their eventual death. This, then, is a love song with warning signs waving in plain sight. It is an open letter to the burgeoning moments of what is bound to end up as a doomed relationship between previously burnt lovers. The next track, ‘New House’ continues this theme of desire, but the focus moves away from matters of the heart to material comfort. Bear imparts that “I just want a long shower/ I been feeling so crowded,” as he pines for an escape, a place of solitude where he can be away from the anxieties of travel, the war zone of baggage claim and a constantly ringing phone. This theme of peace, as the album title signposts, is a recurring one throughout these songs and there is a sense of claustrophobia to get away from the modern world whilst also celebrating a number of technological advances that are seen to be of benefit.

It is from track six of this album that things start to take a surprising turn for the worse. ‘Baby Drive It Down’ feels entirely out of place here, its sexual undercurrent and pseudo-dancehall drive feels forced, unnatural and as though Bear has one eye on demonstrating to the listener a range of writing styles rather than a consistency that is needed more. The track that follows, ‘Freelance’, breaks the disappointing monotony of the second half of the album and it skips along at quite a pace. There is a playfulness to this track which elevates it above most of the other songs on the album. It is the bastard hybrid of Daft Punk’s funkier side and of Montreal’s ‘Gronlandic Edit’. From here, though, the three tracks that close the album are forgettable, derivative and seem like lazy add-ons rather than statements of intent for a fully formed body of work.

Overall, the first half of Outer Peace sparkles, but there is a disappointing limpness to the second part which suggests that the ideas ran out and two EPs of excellent material could have been produced instead of one album’s worth of work.