As far as anti-climactic albums go, Room on Fire delivers the goods. People expecting the Strokes to mature as musicians or hit the infamous sophomore slump will have no cause for celebration here, because there’s been no real progression of their sound.
Nearly everything remains as it was. The guitars still get their hooks in you, the singing still sounds disinterested and smothered in distortion, the half-hour playing time still allows no filler and doesn’t overstay its welcome. So, all those waiting with bated breath to see what’s new with the band will just have to wait a little longer.
This is not to say that the Strokes have not grown at all since their last effort. Small changes pop up here and there, like the occasional spackling of ’80s-style synths, displayed most effectively on the immensely catchy “The End Has No End.” Apart from these small tweaks, the only sign of a new direction comes courtesy of the song “Under Control,” which sounds like a drunken hipster’s ironic love ballad, and lands as the album’s standout track.
Spin called Room on Fire the most anticipated record since the Beatles’ White Album and Rolling Stone is crowning them the “Kings of Rock,” but there’ll be none of that fawning here. This band is not the future of rock, and if you didn’t like their sound the first time around, there’s really nothing to make you like it now. Break down all the hype and you’ll find that the Strokes have simply crafted another quality record to jam out to while you throw back Heinekens and suck down Chesterfields.
[Drew Atkins is effortlessly dapper. Thank you.]