If you’ve seen Coheed and Cambria on their latest tour through the northeast, you may have noticed a small yellow figure sitting on top of frontman and guitarist Claudio Sanchez’s amp. Upon further inspection you may have realized that said figure was actually your favorite childhood Pokémon, Pikachu. What, then, is a plastic Pokémon doing onstage, you might ask yourself. Well, oddly enough, Sanchez has an elaborate array of EDM synthesizers on top of his amp that he manipulates during transitional periods of the show, including one wired directly through – you guessed it – his good buddy Pikachu.
Sanchez’s use of synths onstage correlates to his dabbling into the world of electronica through his side project The Prize Fighter Inferno. This exploration is not, however, akin to that of Skrillex who transformed from Sonny Moore, frontman of From First to Last, to overnight dubstep sensation. Instead, I’d ask readers to invoke the soft melodic sounds of Dntel, which more accurately reflects the direction that Sanchez has taken with the newest The Prize Fighter Inferno EP Half Measures, to be released at the New York City Comic Con on October 11th.
Although there are only four songs on Half Measures, Sanchez is still able to present the listener with his patented poignant yet overtly complex themes, woven intricately inside the framework of his overall story of The Amory Wars. Soft yet poppy electronic beats are interspersed with the subtle and candid acoustic guitar-playing Coheed fans have seen on tracks such as “Mother Superior” and the acoustic demo of “Junesong Provision.”
The EP opens with “Elm Street Lover Boy,” one of the more rocking tracks on the album. It lays on the juxtaposition between Sanchez’s softly sung verses, backed by bright and poppy synths with a much more powerfully sung chorus that features the only instance of electric guitars on the album. Sanchez once again proves his lyrical prowess with the twisted romantic line of “Just fall asleep, I’ll do anything, ‘cause baby, baby, I’m the nightmare you need / Come on, dream, I’m the nightmare you need” that closes the song.
Next up is “The Simple Fix,” which instantly catches the ear with its groovy acoustic guitar riff. Sanchez provides a gentle atmospheric background with his tasteful use of synths, giving the song an almost dream-like air.
The second half of the record opens with “Pistol Pete Matty” and a funky beat that is reminiscent of a computer modem’s sound. Layered over this beat, which continues throughout the entire song, is once again Sanchez’s melodic acoustic work as well as strategically placed acoustic drumming and even a harmonica solo, all creating an intense sonic experience.
The gem of this record, however, is the touching last song and title track “Half Measures.” Sanchez abandons the synths, instead choosing to isolate his emotional guitar playing and his voice, at its softest on the album, further emphasizing the heartfelt lyrics that make this track a tear-jerker. The song finally blossoms when Sanchez is joined vocally by his wife Chondra as they sing in unison to close out the last minute. Many fans will identify the lyrical content of this song as dealing with the story of ex-Coheed bassist Mic Todd and his own trials with the law. However, I’ll let you decipher for yourself what the allusions to Mic are and what is just part of Sanchez’s greater story arc.
Altogether, the EP is a concise yet striking example of Sanchez’s musical aptitude for all genres of music. Furthermore, if you have invested yourself emotionally into The Amory Wars story, then this album becomes a must buy on a narrative level as well as a musical level.