The Strokes: Julian Casablancas (vocals); Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitar); Nikolai Fraiture (bass); Fab Moretti (drums). Recorded at TMF Studios, New York, New York. After the hype--and subsequent backlash--over the Strokes' debut album, IS THIS IT, many fans and skeptics alike came to realize that the band's catchy, punk-pillaging rock ditties were, ultimately, very difficult to resist. Their eagerly anticipated follow-up, ROOM ON FIRE, is cut from the same vintage 1970s cloth, but added flourishes keep the album from sounding like a mere redux. "What Ever Happened?" opens ROOM ON FIRE with a chiming, staccato guitar riff and kicks into the immediately identifiable Strokes swagger. However, while listening to Julian Casablancas's melancholy lyrics and the song's carefully crafted changes, it's clear that this is a maturing band that knows its strengths. This notion is further supported by the hard-charging "Reptilia," one of the group's finest tunes to date. And though the Strokes opted out of working with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, the concept of expanding their palette (even if only slightly) stuck, given the presence of keyboard sounds (on the gleefully Cars-like "12:51" and "The End Has No End") and reggae-influenced guitars (on "Automatic Stop" and "Between Love & Hate"). Although ROOM ON FIRE doesn't mark a radical musical departure for the band, the concise and consistently engaging album solidifies their status as skilled rock revivalists.