The album begins with a 20-second blast of guitar feedback, which bodes ominously leading into a song titled "The Storm Is Coming." The melody kicks in quickly thereafter, though, and Harcourt sings "The storm is coming/It's gonna make a beautiful sound/I hope it turns your life upside down"--which serves as an effective statement of purpose for the new album. Other songs, like the soaring "Loneliness," the playful "Born in the '70s," and the timelessness of "This One's For You," bear out Harcourt's "beautiful sound" mission statement.
Strangers is a very welcome CD from an artist who showed tremendous promise on his debut, only to suffer from classic sophomore slump. Harcourt has taken back control of his creative destiny with Strangers, an album which is an early contender for the upper reaches of 2005's best.