Aside from deciding on names for a handful of tracks and tweaking the final mix, the Strokes have nearly completed their highly anticipated sophomore RCA album. The as-yet-untitled, 11-track set is du

Aside from deciding on names for a handful of tracks and tweaking the final mix, the Strokes have nearly completed their highly anticipated sophomore RCA album. The as-yet-untitled, 11-track set is due in mid-October. It's the follow-up to 2001's "Is This It," which peaked at No. 33 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 894,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The new set was produced by Gordon Raphael, who was also behind the boards for "Is This It." As first reported here in May, the Strokes spent about 10 days in the studio with producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck), but amicably parted company without capturing any finished songs. "They're still very, very fond of each other," RCA senior VP of A&R Steve Ralbovsky tells Billboard.com. "But [the Strokes] seem to be better doing it their own way with their own team."

On the basis of five tracks previewed for Billboard.com, the upcoming album expands on the New York quintet's upbeat, retro-leaning rock with enough new twists to keep things interesting. "You hear some different flavors that are a bit outside the palette, but there's a vintage Strokes feel and sound," Ralbovsky offers.

In particular, tracks like the hand-clapping "Supernova" (a "first single contender," according to Ralbovsky) and "I Can't Win" feature more of a new wave-vibe than "Is This It," thanks to bright guitar lines that replicate frontman Julian Casablancas' vocal melodies.

An extremely catchy song with the working title "The End Has No End" is bookended with a gnarly rock riff and powered by a pounding chorus that repeats the title phrase. The Strokes' soulful side is spotlighted on "Under Control," a slower number with a subtle chorus: "I don't want to change your mind / I don't want to waste your time."

The strummy, fast "I Can't Win" hearkens back to the first album's "Someday," marked by a pitch-bending guitar solo and a single-chord burst at its conclusion. "Meet Me in the Bathroom" flexes impressive rock muscle with Casblancas' emphatic chorus and an unconventional song structure with several short transitional parts.

Other cuts set to appear on the album include "The Way It Is," "You Talk Way Too Much," "Never Needed Anybody" and "Raga." Ralbovsky says retail singles will probably not feature studio B-sides in favor of home demos or live cuts.

The Strokes will likely begin a North American tour concurrent with the release of the new album, followed by a trip to Europe in late fall.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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