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A Mix of Everything in Puzzle's New Album

Album: The Rotten Opera

Artist: Puzzle

Genre: #experimental #electropop #pop

Sub-Genres: #vadavada #poppunk

Label: Vada Vada

Non-Airable Tracks: none


Fletcher Shears, the current drummer in the punk rock band The Garden, released The Rotten Opera on January 7, 2023 under the name Puzzle. Although his solo project has underlying tones that resemble the band he's in with his twin, Wyatt Shears, Puzzle builds on his unique sound in his the album. It introduces a mixture of whimsical and eerie feelings that bring a sense of comfort each time you listen to the track list. There are a variety of sampled sounds spread throughout, such as frogs croaking or even a foghorn, but it only adds to Puzzle's signature touch to make this album feel as special as the rest. Even if you're not one for experimental music, this album magically has tracks that omit emotions you don't know how to describe.

The single "love is a place to hide" was released prior to the album, and immediately drew in Puzzle fans' attention. More on the pop/rock side, this song has the catchiest chorus that makes you feel like the person you wish you were. I find my mood lifted as soon as I hear the first beat, and I transform into the trendy music-goer that lives as a vision in my head. It happened to become the first track on the album, and serves as the perfect opener to an album that doesn't fall flat after it.


Taking a turn, the track "Personality Ransack" provides a more experimental feel with higher-pitched vocals in the background and a fast beat. It seems to be a different style for Puzzle since most of his discography focuses more on synths, repeated beats, and a slower tempo, but it was very well executed, nonetheless.


On another note, "Tip My Hat" returns to the calmness with synths that lift all your troubles away. If humans were able to fly, I imagine that this chorus would play when they first learn how. It also includes sounds that remind me of a futuristic society, or a space-themed place, that supports the weightless feeling this song has the power of simulating.


With a run time of about 27 minutes, this 10 track album is definitely worth a listen if you're going for a car ride, or in the background of a task where music is appropriate. For me personally, Puzzle is one of the artists I prefer to listen to when I work on homework because it's soothing yet transports me to a focused mentality. If Puzzle isn't quite your style though, Enjoy (his twin's solo project) and The Garden are worth a try as well because they bring a lot of different yet familiar sounds to the table.


Sounds Like:

  1. Enjoy

  2. Cowgirl Clue

  3. The Hellp

Recommended Tracks:

  1. love is a place to hide

  2. Poison Oak

  3. Tip My Hat

Reviewer: Elizabeth McCluskey

Date of Review: January 20, 2023


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