I've been back and forth over this album; that much is certain. I've listened to Outside by CFCF (also known as Montreal musician Mike Silver) a good number of times in various locations doing various things, and I've had various thoughts: it's boring, it's interesting, it's a great chillout record, it's just a great record full stop, it's actually a bit terrible. I even made the mistake of suggesting on Twitter it had finally clicked with me and it was ace... and then I changed my mind again.

So here I am writing a review of Outside and I think, I think I've finally come to the conclusion that it's nothing more than alright. But things seemed so promising in the lead-up to this record being released. Silver, under his CFCF moniker released his debut album Continent way back in 2009, and followed it up with a series of solid, consistent and often very good EPs, the best of which was the very fine, beat-heavy electronic pulse of Exercises. That series of releases were for the most part engaging and energetic, so the first disappointment with Outside is that the beats have been dropped in favour of ambient atmospherics and 80s-inspired synth pop - and not artfully chosen 80s synth pop either. We should have seen the signs with the Silver's last EP release, Music for Objects: while there was some great piano work and some fine house rhythms at play, there was a worrying tendency towards new-age atmospherics, with an over-reliance on marimba, saxophone and pan-pipe synths... and the pattern continues here.

Things start off so well, too. Opening track 'Beyond Light' is brilliant; booming drums loom over siren-like synth lines and add weight to the ambience, Silver's Eno influence coming to the fore, and that's followed up by 'Jump Out of the Train' (the album itself was inspired by Silver's surroundings as he wrote the record on a series of train journeys from and to Montreal, Toronto and New York while listening to Peter Gabriel); a cyclical beauty enhanced by backing vocals from Active Child, Silver sounds like prime Gabriel as he mumbles gnomic utterances while light drums tumble all around him. When the third track arrives in the form of an excellent cover of Bonnie Prince Billy's 'Strange Form of Life - taking the original's already fragile form and made it even more barely there and heartbreaking - then it's all looking good for CFCF.

It's the birdsong opening of 'Find' which starts the descent downwards; it's all atmospheres without any focus or point, and following that up with floatation tank Tears for Fears-ness of 'The Breath', complete with queasy pan pipes and horrific 80s soft rock guitar just makes the lost promise of the opening three songs all the more galling. Outside continues in this rather drab manner until the intense rush of 'Transcend' gives the mood something of a lift through sparkling synths and a wordless (synthetic) choral backing and there's a certain charm to the wooden block percussion of slo-mo closing track 'Walking in the Dust'.

In the end, all my back-and-forth leaves me with is a rather boring conclusion: Outside isn't a terrible record, and it isn't a great one either. It's just, well, really average. The annoying thing is that we know from previous EPs that CFCF is plainly better than the music on this record, and can only hope he proves it in the future.