Room on Fire
T.J. Simon's #8 album for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2004, Volume 11, #1
Written by T.J. Simon
Few bands touring and recording today exemplify the rock ’n‘ roll attitude and swagger as completely as The Strokes. The NYC band’s second release Room on Fire doesn’t alter the formula one iota from its 2001 debut Is This It — which is pretty good news for fans.
Weighing in at a nimble 33 minutes, Room on Fire is a barrage of straight-up blazing rock reminiscent of a polished version of The Clash or The Ramones. Guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr. produce a cacophony of sound from their axes while using a variety of effects to simulate keyboards and other unutilized instruments. The radio single 12:51 is characteristic of The Strokes’ drive and ferocity, and once again, singer Julian Casablancas intones as if he had shoved the microphone down his throat. While the megaphone-like outcome adds to the glorious din, it also garbles the lyrics — not that there is much to miss in this regard. The music is the message, and the group is more about the totality of its sound than its lyrics.
Room on Fire is a stylistically uniform album. A hint of reggae creeps into tracks like Automatic Strap and Between Love and Hate, and on Meet Me in the Bathroom, the vocals and instruments show a bit too much reserve where more oomph should have been employed. Still, the band more than makes up for this moment of timidity on the stellar Under Control and The End Has No End. Most importantly, The Strokes utterly avoided the sophomore slump while honing in upon a winning formula to produce another masterful album. ˝
Room on Fire is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box