Faith in Strangers is the refinement and evolution of his previous work Luxury Problems. It was worth the two years he has left us in wait and I can feel the sweat in every track on this album, where Luxury Problems I felt that his bass was a little less purposeful and his sound was a little less refined (controlled). I will have to go back and listen to his even older stuff to know where he was coming from with Luxury Problems but this isn’t a review for that album.
If you have not listened to Luxury Problems, Faith In Strangers is more of an industrial electric journey that tells a beautiful story. All this is told with dark undertones that even exist in the more mellow songs which end up giving you a little of that haunting feeling. This journey wants you to focus on every note from start to end. The six minute average song lengths help emphasize this point.
The first song, “Time Away” is like the six and a half minute introduction to this album with a deep and soothing horn and while I will admit that it does a great job of putting me into a comforting meadow on top of a hill. It puts you into that false sense of security the will be shaken with “Violence”. With your first introduction to the hauntingly amazing vocals by Alison Skidmore “Violence” brings in the heavy but not overpowering bass that you will get more acquainted with through the album. “On Oath” is chilling from start to finish with it’s struggling vocals which brings us almost jarringly to “Science and Industry” with a more upbeat rhythm and our introduction to this albums use of Synth. This and it’s five minute length made this song feel really short. By the Time “No Surrender” starts playing I feel like I am really at the heart of this beautiful monster of an album. With bass, synth, and what I will describe as shimmering it throws you into the action that the first half of this album seemed to build you up for but purposefully left you just that little unprepared. “How It Was” makes me feel like i’m walking up to a dance club and once you're in you truly feel that sense of a controlled mess, but in the fun exciting way. While it might not be my favorite song on the album I think “How It Was” is definitely the funnest. Then just to bring you back down “Damage” feels powerful, serious and beats that fun into submission while still being a great piece. Just then “Faith In Strangers” starts playing and parts us from “Damage” and brings those familiar soothing melodies and the vocals come back closer to the end of the song. “Missing” is not what I was expecting as an end to the Journey that Andy Stott has taken me on but I now look at it like the cliffhanger, the ominous ending that leaves you wanting more. Well I’ll tell you that I hope Andy Stott is not done and I can’t wait to see what this man puts together next.
Faith In Strangers is not for everyone but no music is so if you would like to test him out I think if you enjoy “Violence” then this album might be worth a full listen. With that in mind this album can be repetitive and drawn out to some. Faith In Strangers is definitely a marathon and not a sprint to the finish.
I have a weak spot for albums where each song feels like it’s part of a larger story contained in the album. I think the album itself is stronger than any one of it’s parts. For this reason I won’t recommend any single song other than “Violence” for those who are going into Andy Stott’s music blind.