A couple of exceptions break up this quintessential college girl's soundtrack. 1) A few classical references (a bit of Pachelbel on "Anna Rose"; a lovely, thinly veiled hint of Debussy on "Feather Moon") and a hidden track that's something like Sarah Brightman singing a Chinese folk song with Lion King-era Elton John on keys, defy the limitations of Teng's dorm-rat tastes. 2) "Passage," despite a rather clunky lyrical theme ("I died in a car crash two days ago") and the always-precarious decision to do an a cappella track, manages to crawl under one's skin and diffuse a breathtaking, utter loneliness in viruslike fashion (that is, if viruses were pretty, haunting young slips of things).
But there's only so much comparing and contrasting one can do before arriving at a big, fat "So what?" Warm Strangers is essentially a mix tape for Teng's girlfriends. It's not anything boldly new. It is, however, as simple and familiar as an afternoon on the quad, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure -- just like a good, friendly mix tape should be.