Sunday, April 18, 2010


Room on Fire
(2003, RCA)

Pretentious, self obsessed and utterly phenomenal. The Strokes second album proved that the group had a reason to be so narcissistic.

Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi, Nikolai Fraiture, Fabrizio Moretti and Albert Hammond, Jr. We all know the members that make The Strokes for their reputation as the kings of New York cool. After making a relatively small splash with first album Is This It the group seem to have come back with something to prove. Remarkably they beat the typical second album slump and created what is arguably one of the greatest albums of the noughties.

The name Room on Fire comes from a lyric in the track 'Reptilia', "The room is on fire as she's fixing her hair". The lyrics, although basic, are poetic in their simplicity. Most tracks were written by Julian Casablancas, and his emotions about one girl, or potentially many girls, shine through in every song. When the songs on this album work they are outrageously powerful and encapsulating. 'Reptilia' stands out as a masterful piece of songwriting while '12:51' ignites the imagination in such a way that the listener can't help noticing the seemingly normal time on their clock for weeks. 'Automatic Stop', however, is far from remarkable when compared to other tracks. Although the song isn't terrible it sounds mediocre because of its placement between the two strongest tracks of the album.

Ignoring all their aloofness and the allusions to their own coolness it's the emotion of the album that really comes through. In fact the album screams human feeling to the point where it feels like there's a otherworldly tether between the speakers and the very bottom of your heart. Room on Fire comes from a deep place at the bottom of every soul where the emotions are enigmatic, and totally intimate. 'What Ever Happened' and 'Meet Me in the Bathroom' are simple, conversational and powerful. Each track is like revisiting those moments in time that create you, like your first break up or the first time you fell in love. The entire album feels like it encapsulates human existence, making life futile and utterly joyous simultaneously.

In the end Room on Fire is an enthralling and utterly satisfying album.

Upside: 'What Ever Happened' reels with unforgotten angst.

Downside: 'Automatic Stop' feels like a weak point in the album. Better placement may have rectified this.

Best lyric:
I want to be forgotten,
and I don't want to be reminded.
You say "please don't make this harder."
No, I won't yet.

Sounds like: New York cool riddled with a kind of angst that is mature and real. Garage rock at its finest.

Masterpiece of depressingly pretentious? Leave your thoughts below!

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