Is This It ... Again?

Room on Fire (RCA)
The Strokes

By John Bohannon

"I don't wanna do it your way/I don't wanna change your mind/I don't wanna waste your time," singer-songwriter Juliana Casablancas sings in "Under Control," off the Strokes highly anticipated sophomore album, Room on Fire. The Strokes all did it their way and definitely didn't waste our time. So hold on to your hats as The Strokes deliver a perfect sequel and strive to be the best band in the country ... again.

After experimenting with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich they decided to go back to Gordon Rapheal, their producer from Is This It, to stick with their already illustrious sound. This album delivers the dirty-crunching guitars of Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., the fast-paced rhythm section of bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti and the ever-so-beautifully-distorted vocals of Juliana Casablancas. This album will make you feel as if you just kicked the speed up to 100 m.p.h. with not a worry in the world.

What a better way to keep the essence of your music, then to do it all over again. Well, as soon as the chorus passes, "In the Bathroom" immediately triggers your brain that you've heard this riff before! Think back to "Hard to Explain" and listen again and then see the resemblance. Keeps us thinking, what where they going to throw out for their first single to live up to the expectations of the critics and hype? Style your Bon Jovi hairdo, grab your neon overalls, jump in your Gremlin and dazzle back in time, for they couldn't have picked a better song than "12:51." The synthesizer guitar effect takes you back and reminds you of those Saturday nights that you just felt like staying home with your friends.

Take a ska twist with "Automatic Stop" and relive that moment when you were being chased by some sort of significant other and had no interest in them at all. So cleverly enough, you pulled them to a quick halt. In a raspy, fuzzy presence, "Reptilia" delivers raw emotion in the vocals when Julian screams "Please don't slow me down, `cuz I'm going too fast." The one-noted bass lines and the well-composed guitar riffs/solos add a melodic aura to the song as well. "The End Has No End" tells a story of a person that wants everything the easy way out, but is told to look outside of this attitude. It is complimented by a display of calm but vigorously presented composition.

After 33 minutes of energetic listening, it leads up to the final track on the album, "I Can't Win." This tune leaves an interesting closing statement -- "Hold on, I'll be right back" -- which keeps you pondering what lies ahead for these five gentlemen from the Big Apple? They've avoided the sophomore slump perceptibly, but can they keep the youthful passion they stand with as of now? This gives us a fine idea of what this group has left to give us in the years to come.