Room on Fire

Room on Fire

4.7 24
by The Strokes
     
 

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The Big Apple's entrant in the rock revival stakes surprised a lot of folks with the unexpected chart success of Is This It?, a debut album that exposed dark, twitchy tones borrowed from bands like the Velvet Underground and the Feelies to an audience considerably larger than the usual cult following surrounding such groups. On this

Overview

The Big Apple's entrant in the rock revival stakes surprised a lot of folks with the unexpected chart success of Is This It?, a debut album that exposed dark, twitchy tones borrowed from bands like the Velvet Underground and the Feelies to an audience considerably larger than the usual cult following surrounding such groups. On this much-anticipated sophomore set, the Strokes don't depart significantly from their trademark mix of distortion and sharp angles -- a state of affairs that doesn't detract from the disc's edgy appeal. On tracks like the spasmodic "What Ever Happened?," Julian Casablancas' distanced, fuzzed-out tenor adds an air of bewilderment to what could be a tale of lost love or lost innocence vis-à-vis rock stardom. Similarly, "You Talk Way Too Much," with its icy guitar sound and brittle rhythms, could be taken in any number of directions, but its origins -- an overcast and overstimulating New York street corner -- are unmistakable. At times -- as on the muddy "The Way It Is" -- the Strokes are guilty of emphasizing style over substance, settling for arch displays of post-punk technique at the expense of genuine songwriting. But that's counterbalanced by a growing appreciation of a good hook -- like the ones driving through infectious tunes like the Cars-esque "12:51" and the breezy "Meet Me in the Bathroom." With Room on Fire, the Strokes deftly sidestep the dreaded sophomore slump -- and enmesh themselves even further into the tapestry of hipster-rock history.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Unlike many bands that release notable debut albums and then take years to deliver a follow-up, the Strokes got Room on Fire out as quickly as possible after their lengthy tour for Is This It. Good thing, too; the two years between their debut and this album were long enough for the expectations for -- and the backlash against -- a new Strokes album to reach formidable proportions. And the Strokes sound like they have a lot to prove on Room on Fire, not to their naysayers, but to themselves. On the surface, the album isn't drastically different than Is This It, but it's not predictable. Instead of delivering an album's worth of "Last Nite"s, "Someday"s, and "NYC Cop"s, Room on Fire expands on their debut's off-kilter and complex tracks, like "Is This It?" and "Hard to Explain." The album's first single, "12:51," signals the Strokes' intent: its whistling, synth-like guitars and handclaps are undeniably catchy, but at first, the song seems to be searching for a structure. Eventually, though, it becomes sneakily addictive -- it's a stealth pop song. Likewise, the album opens with "What Ever Happened?," on which Julian Casablancas snarls "I wanna be forgotten/And I don't wanna be reminded" -- not exactly the likeliest start to what should be a triumphant second album from one of the most celebrated rock bands of the 2000s. In many ways, Room on Fire is the Strokes' bid to be taken seriously, which may be why they began this album with producer Nigel Godrich before returning to Is This It producer Gordon Raphael. To his credit, Raphael gives the album its own sound: it's brighter and fuller than Is This It's low-rent production. Room on Fire also has a distinct attitude. Is This It sounded effortless, but it's evident that a great deal of effort was put into Room on Fire. Yet the album's most crafted moments are its most exciting: "Automatic Stop," a playful, poignant look back at a love triangle, lopes along to a reggae beat (and features the witty lyrics "So many fish there in the sea/I wanted her/He wanted me"). "Under Control," an awkwardly gorgeous homage to '60s soul, is possibly the best Strokes song yet. Several songs recapture some of Is This It's exuberance; not surprisingly, they're the ones that the band wrote while on tour. "You Talk Way Too Much" revs on one of their most Velvets-y riffs; "Meet Me in the Bathroom"'s Motown-like bassline and shimmery guitars add some style to its underlying sleaze. However, the Strokes are a different band than when they recorded Is This It, and Room on Fire's best songs acknowledge that. There's a weariness lingering around Room on Fire like stale smoke, especially on "The End Has No End," a loop of a song about a nagging breakup that repeats its seemingly nonsensical title in a surprisingly affecting way. "Reptilia," meanwhile, sounds like a long night of partying turned sour. "Please don't slow me down if I'm going too fast," Casablancas wails (most of Room on Fire's distortion comes from his vocals, which give the impression that he's gargled with turpentine and brushed his teeth with steel wool for the past two years). The motif of moving too fast and not minding it winds through Room on Fire, reflecting its svelte 33-minute running time as well as the swiftness of the Strokes' career. This compressed feel, the precision of the band's playing and arrangements, and the way every song comes to an abrupt stop sometimes make the album sound too closed-off. Room on Fire's best moments fight against this tendency and suggest that the Strokes are continuing to grow, perhaps beyond what their listeners want from them. Some may gripe that it's never as good as the first time, but Room on Fire shows that even after all that happened to the Strokes, they can still surprise.
Rolling Stone - David Fricke
This record was built for thrills and speed.
Spin Magazine - Greg Milner
Room's similarity to its predecessor ultimately bespeaks a purity of vision, not a dearth of new ideas. (A-)
Billboard - Troy Carpenter
"Room on Fire"... establish[es] the quintet as a burgeoning career act instead of a flavor of the month.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/28/2003
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0828765549721
catalogNumber:
55497

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Room on Fire 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Master_Shifu More than 1 year ago
A must have album. rakenrol.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album simply rocks. If you weren't sure if they could live up to Is This It, well, they have. Do yourself a favor and buy this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album may be the greatest thing ever to grace my CD player. No Flaws. Even better than Is This It?. They have done what I believed to be impossible, beat themselves for the greatest album of the 2000's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Strokes are currently saving Rock n' Roll with their brand of vintage-style music as displayed in this great album filled with hard rockers such as "Reptilia", and "What Ever Happened", and softer tunes like "Between Love and Hate", and "I Can't Win". The album also features the band's first ballad "Under Control", which will leaving you crooning for days. The Strokes are living up to the hype of being Rock's new saviors. This album was definitely worth the wait!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Really different than "Is This It?" with a less garage rock sound. I would say that the only thing wrong with this CD is that its so good, you'll wish it was longer. But on the whole its not better or worse than "Is This It?," just different.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this cd is the best in my collection, room on fire will take your breath away every time you listen to it, each song has you singing along, each song is good! i give it an a+
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a let down, but this album is very, very good. It's one of those albums you have to listen to five times before you get it. I think this is because this album doesnt sound anything like standard radio top 40. There is no filler in this album and plenty of hooks. I like to listen to it on random, every song is good. There's no reason to download 11 songs, just buy the album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this band is one of the best out there, and many thought they wouldn't top off their previous album. This album is amazing and I listen to it over and over. The bass, guitar are amazing and casablanca does a wonderful job with the slurring vocals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What is this..Garage band heaven? This has to be the most over-hyped, over-promoted band since Adam and the Ants. The difference here is that at least the Ants' songs were some what catchy, and the sound was new and fresh. Drive around your neighborhood any Saturday afternoon during the summer, and you hear that dull, thumping irritating sound that resembles a male moose dying in your driveway? That's not a moose, silly goose..someone is playing a Strokes CD way too loud. Talent can be a wonderful thing to possess; these boys don't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
its just so good...i dont even know why
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked the strokes first album, then you will love this. If you like good ol rock and roll, then you will love this album.I didn't think anything the strokes put out after Is This It could be better, but i was proved wrong. the only way to know and here how good and enjoyable it is is to but it now
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album has a sharper sound to it, fantastic guitar rifs, and a lot more edge. I recommend it for anyone who can stand Julian's moans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this CD is very good, but not perfect. the guys in the band have a very creative style of rock. and i think "Room On Fire" is pretty good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Strokes Room On Fire album is amazing and so addictive! i just can't stop listening to the awesome songs on this CD especially my favorite Reptilia...those of you who like new york city 70's sound punk rock will really like this album...plus Fabrizio Moretti and Julian Casablancas are hot!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd rocks!!!! It never gets old, even though I've listened to it like a billion times. If you liked thier first cd then you have to buy this one, it's way better. The Strokes RULE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this cd!!! The first time i ever heard of the strokes was when i saw the video for 12:51 then i immediately bought the cd. When i bought it i didn't expect it to be this good but i guess i was wrong.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is amazing, after I bought it, I couldn't stop listening to it. The Strokes are one of my favorite bands. I just listened to the whole cd song by song, I just couldn't turn the cd off. I recommend this album to anyone
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Guest More than 1 year ago
the strokes are okay but if you like this sort of music...adam green will be your cup of tea ! his new album Gemstones is coming out soon and i pinky promise that it is utterly fantastic.