With COVID-19 grinding a lot of things to a halt, including the recording of Coheed & Cambria‘s ninth album, frontman Claudio Sanchez decided to revisit his side-project The Prize Fighter Inferno and create second album, ‘The City Introvert’.
Though still sitting somewhat in the conceptual universe that drives his main project, Sanchez moves away from the sprawling narratives of Coheed & Cambria. Here he takes a bit more of a personal and optimistic approach, and with it ‘The City Introvert’ looks to stand on its own instead of being considered as just a companion piece to The Amory Wars.
Kicking things off with the pulsating ‘More Than Love’, textured samples and pumping bass lines create a minimal foundation for Sanchez‘s distinct vocals. Leaning more towards retro inspired pop than folktronica, the track glides into sparkling synths and layered harmonies for its chorus instead of the driving choruses expected from Sanchez, creating a welcome change of pace to open the record.
Following up with ‘Death Rattle’ and ‘Crazy For You’, both tracks unfurl the two different soundscapes that determine the record. With the former, bouncing synths, pop inspired harmonies and a hook driven chorus continue on the foundation set out on ‘More Than Love’, whereas ‘Crazy For You’ sits closer to ambient and folktronica driven sounds found on ‘My Brother’s Blood Machine’.
Slow burning and favouring subtle changes to lead the dynamics of the song, ‘Crazy For You’ allows Sanchez‘s vocal performance to spearhead the track towards an intimate and reserved conclusion. Changing the pace with ‘Stray Bullets’, hip-hop verses courtesy of Weerd Science (aka Coheed & Cambria drummer, Josh Eppard) play against electronically crafted wind melodies and wonky synths to create a track that sits comfortably in both The Prize Fighter Inferno‘s and Weerd Science‘s worlds.
As the record progresses, Sanchez may stick to the blueprint set out early on, but does look at various deviations to keep the momentum going. Whether it’s the bursts of distorted bass lines that make up the bridge on ‘Rock Bottom’, or the experimental choices of samples that weave in and out of the new wave driven ‘Sweet Talker’, the latter half of ‘The City Introvert’ works to avoid becoming lost compared to the front loaded first half, with varying results.
Closing with the simple yet striking ‘Stay Where You Are’, acoustic finger picking and a soft vocal performance from Sanchez closes the record on an unexpectedly reserved note. Whilst the album does strive to move away from Sanchez‘s main output, and does succeed in doing so, ‘The City Introvert’ is a record that may be inconsistent, but ultimately stands on its own.