Ed Harcourt is another sleepy-voiced, tastefully appointed singer-songwriter from Britain. But unlike the more ambitious Chris Martin (Coldplay) and Badly Drawn Boy, Harcourt shuns lugubrious concepts in favor of melodically direct and sonically rich music. On Strangers, Harcourt's third and best album, he teases with the rangy shoegazer frission that opens "The Storm Is Coming" before pulling back into the more familiar piano arrangements of "This One's for You," "Let Love Not Weigh You Down," and other hummable favorites. In spite of its unabashedly light sentiments, Strangers has a certain integrity, the inevitable result of being well- written, memorable pop.
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