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The Strokes - Room on Fire


Review: Jack Foley

THE only problem with putting out as successful an album as Is This It? is following it up.

The Strokes' 2001 debut was a multi-platinum/award-winning affair, which spearheaded the 80s focused punk-rock revival and put New York firmly back on the music map as the place to hail from for emerging bands.

So just how do you follow that? Well, the answer seems simple when listening to an album as good as Room on Fire - more of the same, only better.

The Strokes actually surpass the brilliance of Is This It? by mixing things up a little, even if the essential ingredients remain the same.

Take, for instance, the current single, 12:51, with its synthesizer-driven guitar lick, which lends the record a more fuller sound; or The Pixies-inspired opening rifts of Between Love & Hate, which give way to a really strong chorus, and a fantastic guitar solo midway through.

The raw feel remains, yet there is a newfound slickness to proceedings that give the feel of a band maturing in a way which doesn't breed arrogance.

The Strokes' continuing allure still lies in their ability to consistently write such breezy moments of rock brilliance; rather like downing a shot, rather than a cocktail, during a special birthday party, the rush is just as effective, only quicker and more direct.

Room on Fire actually clocks in at three minutes shorter than its predecessor, at a tight 36 minutes.

Yet there is probably more to say about it than the majority of the over-cooked likes of some of the albums currently doing the rounds at the moment.

Personal favourites include the tender (by their standards) Under Control, which actually flirts with soul, and the searing guitar loops of Automatic Stop, in which singer-songwriter, Julian Casablancas' scorched vocals sound as wounded as ever.

Opening track, Whatever Happened, provides a somewhat downbeat opening, but immediately grabs you with all the ferocity of anything on Is This It?, making you realise, early on, that this is another classic in the making.

But then another of The Strokes' strengths is their ability to fuse desperate lyrics with uptempo music, barely allowing you the time to draw breath, or really contemplate the meaning. They are far from melancholy, even though the words themselves might be.

Hats off, then, to Casablancas, producer, Gordon Raphael, and co for delivering another sleek, exciting, totally hip affair, which should be on the top of any music fans' must-own list.

Room on Fire is so hot, it's scorching.

 

Track listing:
1. What Ever Happened?
2. Reptilia
3. Automatic Stop
4. 12:51
5. You Talk Way Too Much
6. Between Love & Hate
7. Meet Me in the Bathroom
8. Under Control
9. The End Has No End
10. The Way it is
11. I Can't Win

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