Track of the DayThe Strokes - Reptilia

NeilBy | posted on 17th August 2014
AlbumRoom on FireLabelYearChart Pos

When people talk up second album syndrome like it's really a thing, the music world niche they're rooting around in is that boutique aisle of despair marked "Super-hyped bands whose debuts didn't actually suck". The problem being, of course, that all the hype sucks all the band's goodness, its creativity, its inspiration, into that one album, leaving nothing for the next one. It's what some people were expecting to happen to The Strokes, only it didn't quite work out that way.

These four impossibly cool, pedigreed, handsome New Yorkers released Is This It to waves of love and joy in 2001, toured the album, lapped up the adulation, and went straight back into the studio to get cracking on a follow-up. Originally they picked Radiohead's Nigel Godrich as producer, but when that wasn't working out as planned, reverted to Gordon Raphael, who they had worked with on Is This It. And, sticking largely to the sound of that album, with its frayed edges and the contradictory spirits of languor and urgency that inhabited it, and also by keeping it short and tight (both albums come in at just over half an hour), on Room on Fire The Strokes just about managed to avoid the dreaded second album dip: take away the hype and anticipation that was built up for Is This It, and both albums stand as equals.

In "Reptilia", Room on Fire even gets the best track of either album (yeah, yeah, you prefer "Last Nite" or "Take it or Leave it", and you're quite wrong to do so...), thanks to its glorious sweeps in and out of bass, guitar, and the bridge into Julian Casablancas' distorted chorus:

Yeah, the night's not over
You're not trying hard enough,
Our lives are changing lanes
You ran me off the road,
The wait is over
I'm now taking over,
You're no longer laughing
I'm not drowning fast enough.