The Strokes - Room on Fire
Star rating: 5/5
Room on Fire is the second album to be released by the kings of garage rock, The Strokes. While their initial record garnered success and fame, this one easily doubled it. "Reptilia" became an untouchable indie rock hit. There are many similarities to Is This It, but Room on Fire stands out by perfecting their formula. The album doesn't go on too long, and it also leaves little room for anything but hits.
Top Tracks & Takeaways
"What Ever Happened?" is easily one of the best opening tracks ever. It was mostly ignored as a single, but true fans know this song by heart. "I wanna be forgotten, and I don't wanna be reminded", Julian Casablancas shouts. This may be a reaction to their newfound fame, but the world would not soon forget about this powerful quintet.
Even in an album chock full of great tunes, "The End Has No End" makes a splash, and juxtaposes musings on the eternal nature of time with The Strokes classic well of inspiration: the hard work vs. care-free lifestyle dichotomy. Albert Hammond Jr's guitar solo is also a tasty treat for those who were hoping to hear some wailing and gnashing of teeth.
"12:51" will be the most appealing to a pop-minded listener. Conversely, "Meet Me in the Bathroom", "Under Control", and "Between Love & Hate" have dissonant and complex rhythms and melodies that might make it harder for the casual listener to hop on the bandwagon.
What we liked
All songs on this album bring us back to the glory days of the garage rock revival. Indeed, this album was a foundation for many artists who would come later. "I Can't Win" is another playful piece that features a monster guitar solo by Nick Valensi that we can't get out of our heads. The vocabulary on display throughout the album is rough and gritty, and often nonsensical. This is a common feature throughout much of indie rock, but detached or sardonic lyrics are specific to the alternative post-punk genre which best describes this band.
Not so much...
This album was so similar to the first Strokes record that it is easy to look it over. The band essentially copied their formula exactly and replicated the success of their first album. There is a time to experiment and a time to remain conservative, and we could have done with a bit more experimentation.
Videos and Singles
The End Has No End
It is rare to find a follow-up record that has this much to offer. Room on Fire is the successor to Is This It in every possible way. There are loud strummed choruses and funky breakdowns laced with expert guitar solos all executed flawlessly. There are radio-friendly hits, "Reptilia" was on GuitarHero, and "You Talk Way Too Much" was used in television ads, but we can honestly say there are no bad songs on this album. Two thumbs way up! We dig this release.
What Ever Happened?
You Talk Way Too Much
Between Love & Hate
Meet Me in the Bathroom
The Way It Is
The End Has No End
I Can't Win