The Strokes
Room on Fire



by barcafan21 USER (18 Reviews)
May 29th, 2012 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Is This It? 0.5

“I wanna be forgotten, and I don’t wanna be reminded,” sings Julian Casablancas in the brilliant opener to The Strokes’ sophomore effort. Following up “Is This It?” was always going to be quite difficult. The amount of praised that their debut received was enormous. The Strokes could’ve done a number of things with this follow-up effort. They could’ve written what amounted to the same album (think Neon Bible by Arcade Fire). They could’ve expanded their horizons slightly, experimented a bit, but mainly keep things the same (Favourite Worst Nightmare the Arctic Monkeys). Or they could’ve blown everything from their first album away and gone for a completely different sound (Radiohead with The Bends). Sadly, they went with the former (as is indicated by my summary), which is, not coincidentally, the only one of the three which saw the band put out a worse album with their sophomore effort.

Room on Fire is basically a rehash of “Is This It?” with less highs and more lows. The only major change is that they use synth lines in a couple of songs, and even that isn’t really that big of a change. The two albums honestly could’ve been recorded in the same sessions; I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out that they were. The band decided to ride the wave of popularity that came with their debut, and as a result took the safe path. Which worked quite well, seeing as the album sold pretty well and had a positive reception by critics.

This isn’t to say the music on the album is bad. On the contrary, the strongest points of the album match and even possibly exceed those of their predecessor. “What Ever Happened?” is a perfect opener. Fab plays a somewhat interesting beat over quickly strummed guitar, then Julian comes in with the previously mentioned opening lyric, which, by the way, is pretty brilliant for an opener. This is followed by “Reptilia”, which could possibly be the best song The Strokes had released at this point in their brief careers, mainly because it features the best guitar parts, and that’s really what this band is all about. The riff in the pre-chorus is so incessantly catchy, it’s barely legal (heh).

“Under Control” shows a more mellow side of The Strokes, possibly hinting at the experiments the band would undertake with their next album. “The End Has No End” is one of the few times where Fab’s incredibly simple beat actually adds something to the song. You would think that a drum solo where he does nothing but play the simplest beat possible wouldn’t work out, but it does. Really well. Both of these tracks are the high points of Fab’s drumming on the album, and are also two of the best tracks.
Not everything on this album is good, however. Fab’s beat in “Automatic Stop” does the opposite of what it does on “The End Has No End”, ruining what could’ve potentially been a highlight, with its catchy guitar and well-placed synth line. Tracks 5-7 are all weak, not featuring a single great moment throughout the entire span of three songs. These three tracks bring down the album tremendously.

If this album had been the band’s debut, it would’ve been a solid 3.5. However, considering it’s essentially a twin of its predecessor, I can only give it a 3. The fact that the band took no chances and did the same thing is both depressing and indicates that they weren’t entirely ready to have the spotlight on them, musically. While being a worthy addition to any collection of a Strokes fan, if you’re a casual listener, this definitely isn’t the album for you, especially if you want to get into The Strokes.

Recommended Tracks

What Ever Happened?
Under Control
The End Has No End

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

The Strokes discography 2/4.

this is my shortest review so far, hopefully it turned out ok

May 29th 2012


The best

Digging: Disclosure - Energy

Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

oh bloc

Digging: Charli XCX - How I'm Feeling Now

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

silly bloc

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

Id give this a solid 3.5, maybe even a 4. Also I dont think “The End Has No End” has a synth in it, the part that i think

youre talking about is actually a guitar effect.

But anyway this is a decent review. POS'd.

May 29th 2012


the only strokes album i can tolerate

May 29th 2012


The strokes are all right, but I find it difficult to listen to a whole album. Julian's vocals just get on my nerves.

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

"Id give this a solid 3.5, maybe even a 4. Also I dont think “The End Has No End” has a synth in it, the part that i think

youre talking about is actually a guitar effect."

hmm, i just listened to it again, and you might be right. it still sounds kind of synthy though.

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

I think that this is only slightly inferior to Is This It? Their debut probably had more highlights, but I tend to enjoy this albums best bits more.

May 29th 2012


One more than you, andcas!

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, i enjoy listening to this every now and then, but i think it's their worst effort. but still, not too bad.

May 29th 2012


the first two strokes albums are so nostalgic for me

May 29th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

ya i don't think this is as consistent as Is This It, but liek Ali said, the best stuff here is freakin amazing

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