Review: The Prize Fighter Inferno – The City Introvert (2021)


The Prize Fighter Inferno is an acoustic/electronica solo project of Claudio Sanchez, the lead singer and lead/rhythm guitarist for the band Coheed and Cambria. There`s a new album this month with `The City Introvert` which follows on from his first album `My Brother’s Blood Machine` fifteen years ago. The album chronicles Sanchez’s personal story of life during the global pandemic where his grandfather fell ill and simultaneously, his wife began battling an auto-immune disease. He found himself coping with the darkness and uncertainty the only way he knew how by writing. The result is a rare, introspective solo project with `The City Introvert`.

The album begins with `More Than Love` which has a steady electronic drum machine like beat and auto-tuned vocals shared across a dance like pop texture. There`s a distressing pleading and passion within the vocal delivery relating a tale that the narrator and their partner collectively can battle whatever comes their way as long as they remain together. We have a really soulful hypnotic piece with `Death Rattle` which has a repetitive drum and synth pulse beat with lyrics that concern the impending arrival of death. A track that seems to be a recognition, a maturity and acceptance or a coming to terms of an inevitable situation.

`Crazy For You` is pretty mesmeric with a synth heartbeat running throughout and some delightfully quietly shared lyrics about a passion for somebody that they are just about keeping under control.  A heartfelt expression of love. I thought `Stray Bullets` have a similar pop rap vibe that the Black Eyed Peas gained with “Where Is The Love?”. It seems to be a recognition of having taken a relationship for granted and trying to make recompense. The vocals and vocal harmonies are a delight to behold on this thoroughly captivating number.
`Rock Bottom` is a dreamy quite introspective number with synthesised vocals encouraging us all to appreciate what we take for granted. As the song progresses it seems to challenge somebody as to their behaviour with a view to accepting and making restitution. It`s made all the more poignant with a persistent drum rhythm and tinkling keys. There`s a real eclectic mix with `Holiday Fool` a contemplative piece that is at times soulful, quite pop, and somewhat alternative. The vocals were wonderfully varied on this quite diverse offering.

I have to say I really loved `Sweet Talker` an uplifting number that encourages us to make the most of what little time we have. It builds musically as it progresses and also incorporates a touching sample from the artist`s son’s second Christmas morning towards the end. We almost head into the realm of drum and bass with `Roll For Initiative` which bounces along with a busy musical backdrop and vocals rapidly shared atop.

`She’s The Brains, My Sweetheart` is a stripped back composition that allows us to appreciate just how good the singer`s vocals are on this heartfelt devotion to his wife. It begins very distant nigh on remotely but builds into an ode of admiration as it proceeds. The album closes out with `Stay Where You Are` a stripped back submission with guitar chords and vocals together with lyrics paying respect to the singer`s wife.

I have to say The Prize Fighter Inferno`s `The City Introvert` was not what I was expecting to hear. I`ve listened to some Coheed and Cambria and this is vastly different. There was so much to enjoy here both musically and lyrically. This album has come out of a dark time for Claudio Sanchez and i`m sure was very cathartic. The lyrics are deeply contemplative and thought provoking and may trigger a desire in ourselves to sit back and reflect on what`s important in our own lives. These meditative musings are shared against a background of electronically-tinged tunes, achieved with modular synthesizers, vintage drum machines, and vocals manipulated through multiple layers of processing and effects.

The overriding notion that came to me from this release is that “life is a journey to be lived not a problem to be solved”.   Rating 9 /10

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