Room on Fire is the second studio album by American indie rock band The Strokes. Released in October 2003, the album follows 2001's Is This It and includes three singles: "12:51", "Reptilia", and "The End Has No End." Grammy-winning producer Nigel Godrich was initially in charge of production, but The Strokes felt he made the songs seem "soulless". The band went back to work with Is This It producer Gordon Raphael. The album features a slightly smoother sound than its predecessor. The bass guitar is less present except for several moments when it becomes the focal point of the song. The album title Room on Fire was drawn from a line in "Reptilia": "The room is on fire as she's fixing her hair." The record received positive reviews upon release. It reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and debuted at number four in the U.S. on the Billboard 200, where it went on to sell 597,000 units by October 2006 and was certified Gold.
Immediately after touring for their debut album Is This It, the band returned to the studio to record songs, initially with renowned producer Nigel Godrich. Those sessions were ultimately scrapped and the band returned to their original producer, Gordon Raphael. The Strokes only had exactly three months of studio time to record the album. Guitarist Nick Valensi stated that "the album would've ended up a lot better if we'd had another couple of weeks."
While reviews for the album were generally positive, gaining a 77 out of 100 on review aggregating site Metacritic based on 31 reviews, the general consensus on the album was that it was too similar to Is This It. Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork Media gave the album an 8 out of 10, but stated that the band "have all but given birth to an identical twin." A positive review from Rolling Stone said that "the Strokes have resisted the temptation to hit the brakes, grow up and screw around with a sound that doesn't need fixing — yet." The review also stated that "if you want comfort and clarity, you're definitely in the wrong room. This record was built for thrills and speed." Dan Tallis of BBC Music gave it a favorable review and said, "Bands should think themselves lucky to achieve such heights just once in their careers. However, they've done all they could have done. They've made Is This It part two. It's more of the same plus extras. And I'm more than happy to settle for that." Ben Thompson of The Observer gave it all five stars and said, "This is a feeling that can be inspired only by people making the absolute most of an opportunity to communicate: cutting through all the rubbish that surrounds them to make a clear and memorable artistic statement. And that The Strokes should have managed to do such a thing at this stage in their careers, is - I think - an achievement of real significance." Greg Milner of Spin gave it a score of eight out of ten and said that its "similarity to its predecessor ultimately bespeaks a purity of vision, not a dearth of new ideas." Jenny Tatone of Neumu gave it a score of nine stars out of ten and said, "The Strokes don't make the most original sounding music you've ever heard, but they make something that is only The Strokes." In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention () while picking out two songs from the album ("Between Love and Hate" and "What Ever Happened?") and stating simply, "Narcissism repeats itself."
Not all reviews were positive, however. Raoul Hernandez of The Austin Chronicle gave the album a score of two stars out of five and stated that "Even the half-hearted retreads... cashing in on the notoriously unwashed NYC quintet's debut can't muster a wink." Iain Moffat of Playlouder gave the album only one star and said of the Strokes, "There's little of the pop sparkle that shone through the likes of 'The Modern Age' and 'Last Nite' even when - as with 'You Talk Way Too Much' - they're rewriting old material, and Julian's vocals are, to be blunt, awful, sounding uncomfortable to record and rather complacently nasal."