The world of critics couldn't shut up about this band a couple of years ago, but I get the feeling like it's *this* record that will gain the most following.
It's eleven songs that admittedly sound exactly like the Strokes. But somehow, the vocal fluctuations (however drab they may be at times), Fraiture's basslines, and Valensi's melodic guitar playing sound so much better this time around -- so much more inspired. Even the shortcomings seem irrelevant: the lyrics are more simple at times, but Casablancas sure sings the hell out of them. They play so tight, that these guys kiss eachother is definitely in the scope of probability.
Call the record "Strokes filler," but the cuts on the whole win out over their first outing in a lot of ways. I could go on about song structures, hooks (or no hooks), and choruses, but simply put: at the close of each song I am excited about the next one. Part of me is surprised that I can get truly excited about Velvet Underground and Television inflections throughout -- but I am. That makes Room on Fire a new sort of accomplishment, capable of getting me to change my attitude on decades-old music.
I suppose you can't have a second date without a first, and it was 2001's effort, after all, that really got this thing going. However, only at this point have I stopped debating -- and finally decided that this must be it.