The Strokes are nearing the finish line on their as-yet-untitled third studio album, due in late January via RCA. The group has recorded 14 songs for consideration, three of which were co-produced by

The Strokes are nearing the finish line on their as-yet-untitled third studio album, due in late January via RCA. The group has recorded 14 songs for consideration, three of which were co-produced by longtime collaborator Gordon Raphael, while the rest were produced by David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Fiction Plane). Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine) will handle mixing.

The new album is the follow-up to 2003's "Room on Fire," which didn't stray far from the rambunctious rock'n'roll of the Strokes' 2001 debut "Is This It." But its sales dropped off significantly; "Room on Fire" moved 563,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while "Is This It" has shifted more than 998,000.

"This one is definitely like, 'All right -- done with that phase in our career,'" Strokes manager Ryan Gentles tells Billboard.com. "The sound is a lot clearer and brighter. The vocals are up. David really taught [vocalist] Julian [Casablancas] how to accept his voice and hear it over the top of the mix."

"It's definitely new and fresh and they're doing things they never did on the first two," he continues. "The mix was very compressed on the first two, but this has a lot of dynamic. It sounds like what they've always wanted to sound like. They still don't have anything on this record that they can't do live. But I can tell you, it will be trickier."

Gentles anticipates the first taste of new music will appear in late October or early November. At present, the plan calls for visits to select North American cities, Europe, Japan and Australia to play small venue shows before the album is released. "They'll be sneak preview shows," he says. "Only the diehards are going to know about these."

About two weeks before release date, the Strokes will play approximately 15 North American dates in bigger venues, followed by a short swing in the United Kingdom. A more extensive North American run is being eyed for March.

"We had a lot of success with 'Is This It' and the band toured for like two straight years, starting six months before the album," Gentles observes. "We took it so light last time and did really minimal touring. I think, in a way, we could have sold more if we would have toured for another year. But if we had, then the guys wouldn't feel the way they do now, and now they can't wait. We're going to go everywhere twice."