Room on Fire

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Room on Fire
Room on Fire cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 28, 2003
StudioTMF Studios, New York City
ProducerGordon Raphael
The Strokes chronology
Is This It
Room on Fire
First Impressions of Earth
Singles from Room on Fire
  1. "12:51"
    Released: November 4, 2003
  2. "Reptilia"
    Released: February 9, 2004
  3. "The End Has No End"
    Released: November 1, 2004

Room on Fire is the second studio album by American rock band the Strokes, released on October 28, 2003 by RCA Records. The album features the return of producer Gordon Raphael from Is This It and consists of a slightly smoother sound than its predecessor; i.e. the bass guitar is less present except for several select moments when it becomes the focal point of the song. Its title is drawn from a lyric in "Reptilia": "The room is on fire as she's fixing her hair."

Room on Fire received positive reviews upon its release, and reached number four on the US Billboard 200 (where it went on to sell 597,000 units by October 2006[3] and was certified gold) and number two on the UK Albums Chart. Three singles were released from the album: "12:51", "Reptilia", and "The End Has No End".


Immediately after touring for their debut album Is This It, the Strokes returned to the studio. They hired Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, but fired him when their work together, according to the band, proved "soulless".[4] Godrich said of the failed collaboration: "The problem there was that me and [singer Julian Casablancas] are just too similar, we're both control freaks. He wanted to do it his way, I wanted to do it my way, and obviously that's the point of me being there. And I'm saying 'Well, why am I here if you're not prepared to try and do it the way I want to do it?' We got on great, it was just one of those laughable things where it just doesn't work. I wanted them to change, and they didn't."[5]

Those sessions were ultimately scrapped and the band returned to their original producer, Gordon Raphael. The Strokes had exactly only 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."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[8]
Blender3/5 stars[9]
Entertainment WeeklyB[10]
The Guardian3/5 stars[11]
Q5/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[15]
Uncut4/5 stars[17]

While reviews for the album were critical acclaim, gaining a 77 out of 100 on review aggregating site Metacritic based on 31 reviews,[7] the general consensus on the album was that it was too similar to Is This It.[6] Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork gave the album an 8 out of 10, but stated that the band "have all but given birth to an identical twin."[13] 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."[15] 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."[18] 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."[19] 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."[16] 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."[20] In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention ((3-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."[21]

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."[22] 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."[23]

In 2013 Room On Fire was listed at number 360 on NME's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Commercial performance[edit]

The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 in the US, and was later certified Gold by the RIAA in December 2003.[24][25]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Julian Casablancas.

1."What Ever Happened?"2:54
3."Automatic Stop"3:26
5."You Talk Way Too Much"3:04
6."Between Love & Hate"3:15
7."Meet Me in the Bathroom"2:57
8."Under Control"3:06
9."The Way It Is"2:22
10."The End Has No End"3:07
11."I Can't Win"2:34


The Strokes




  • Released: February 9, 2004
  • Chart positions:
    #17 (UK Singles Chart)
    #19 (US Modern Rock)
"The End Has No End"
  • Released: November 1, 2004
  • Chart positions:
    #27 (UK Singles Chart)
    #35 (US Modern Rock)


Chart (2003–04) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[26] 6
Austrian Albums Chart[26] 14
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[26] 14
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[26] 35
Canadian Albums Chart[27] 2
Danish Albums Chart[26] 16
Finnish Albums Chart[26] 25
French Albums Chart[26] 16
German Albums Chart[28] 6
Irish Albums Chart[29] 2
Italian Albums Chart[26] 14
Netherlands Albums Chart[26] 23
New Zealand Albums Chart[26] 6
Norwegian Albums Chart[26] 3
Portuguese Albums Chart[26] 12
Swedish Albums Chart[26] 6
Swiss Albums Chart[26] 29
UK Albums Chart[30] 2
US Billboard 200[27] 4
US Top Album Sales[27] 4
US Vinyl Albums[27] 12


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[31] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[32] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[33] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[35] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Top 100 Indie Rock albums of the '00s". Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  2. ^ Sottile, Leah. "'Room on Fire,' The Strokes". Inlander. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  3. ^
  4. ^ McKinnon, Matthew (24 July 2006). "Everything in Its Right Place". CBC News. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  5. ^ "From The Basement On A Television: DiS talks to Nigel Godrich". DrownedInSound. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  6. ^ a b Jonathan Garrett (7 March 2011). Is This It: Ten Years of the Strokes Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Reviews for Room On Fire by The Strokes". Metacritic. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  8. ^ Phares, Heather. "Room on Fire – The Strokes". AllMusic. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  9. ^ Power, Tony (November 2003). "The Strokes: Room on Fire". Blender (21): 106. Archived from the original on November 22, 2005. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Browne, David (October 31, 2003). "Room on Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  11. ^ Petridis, Alexis (October 16, 2003). "The Strokes, Room on Fire". The Guardian. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  12. ^ Needham, Alex (September 25, 2003). "The Strokes : Room On Fire". NME. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Mitchum, Rob (October 26, 2003). "The Strokes: Room on Fire". Pitchfork. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Strokes: Room on Fire". Q (208): 102. November 2003.
  15. ^ a b Fricke, David (October 7, 2003). "Room on Fire". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Milner, Greg (October 26, 2003). "Room at the Top". Spin. 19 (12): 121–22. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  17. ^ "Not So Different Strokes". Uncut (78): 108. November 2003. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  18. ^ Tallis, Dan (2003-11-20 (mislabeled as "2002-11-20")). "Review of The Strokes - Room On Fire". BBC Music. Retrieved 2011-02-20. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  19. ^ Thompson, Ben (2011-02-09). "The Strokes, Room on Fire: 5 stars | OMM | The Observer". The Observer. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  20. ^ Tatone, Jenny. "The Strokes: Room on Fire". Neumu. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: The Strokes". Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  22. ^ Hernandez, Raoul (2003-10-24). "The Strokes: Room on Fire (RCA)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  23. ^ Moffat, Iain (2003-10-18). "Room On Fire". Playlouder. Archived from the original on 2003-11-04. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  24. ^ Room on Fire - The Strokes Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  25. ^ RIAA - Searchable Database RIAA. Note: reader must define search parameters as "Strokes".
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "The Strokes – Is This It". Ultratop. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  27. ^ a b c d "The Strokes: Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  28. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Strokes, The / Longplay (Chart Tracking / Strokes, The / Album)" (in German). Musicline. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  29. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Strokes, The / Longplay (Chart Tracking / Strokes, The / Album)" (in German). Musicline. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  30. ^ Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles & Albums. Omnibus Press. p. 1064. ISBN 1-84449-058-0.
  31. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2004 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  32. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Strokes – Room on Fire". Music Canada.
  33. ^ "Japanese album certifications – The Strokes – Room on Fire" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.
  34. ^ "British album certifications – The Strokes – Room on Fire". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Room on Fire in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  35. ^ "American album certifications – The Strokes – Room on Fire". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.