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The Strokes - Room on Fire - The band as a brand

2006-03-29 18:35
The most mesmerising thing about listening to The Strokes is not the fact that they're unquestionably savvy sonic thieves who wear their influences on their sleeves - it's how ineffably damn infectious every single song is. In an age where the CD format invariably demands some amount of filler, the Strokes simply pack their deck with a potent mix of modern rock and power pop aces.

Which means that at just over 33 minutes long, the Strokes work really hard to sustain the less is more dynamic of Room on Fire. Alternating muddy monochromatic retro rock stumbles ("What Ever Happened"), blank generation hypnotic keyboard-driven new wave pop noodles ("12:51", "The Way it is") and airy alternative pop grooves ("You Talk Way too Much") could easily be dismissed as a fashionable postmodern marriage between the Velvet Underground, the Cars, Television and the Pixies. It is. But by dosing up on just the requisite amount of dirty punk distortion ("Reptilia"), fuzzed out guitar sighs ("Meet Me in the Bathroom") and lazy narcotic vocal sleaze ("Automatic Stop") the Strokes' self-consciously "pretty vacant" post punk ethic ultimately sounds like a brand conscious band discovering who they are.
A fashion-show-friendly collection of shabby chic and yes oh-so-catwalk cool cuts, Room on Fire is actually far more than just another au courant exercise in a stylish and stylised "garage rock trash" aesthetic.


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