Written by Mica Kendall
Fletcher Tightens the reins on his personal life
In December, Fletcher Shears released a 10 tracked album called “Laying in the Sand” for his side project known as Puzzle. For those unaware of Puzzle, majority of the fans who support The Garden are also avid supporters of the Shear twins separate side projects, with Wyatt’s known as Enjoy. However, not stopping with “Laying in the Sand”, Fletcher planted more fresh tunes this summer with his 8 track album “Tighten the Reins”, revolving around the stages of a relationship such as falling in love, experiencing heartbreak, and trying to move on.
The first track Sigh, conveys a slow sensual tune that contradicts the usual upbeat instrumentals prevalent in the beginning of Shears other albums such as “Laying in the Sand” and “Soaring”, with the solemn lyrics conveying a sense of longing for a past lover with wanting “whatever scraps she doesn't want and has to spare/ like a dog I’m at the table desperately I want you here,” along with the steady keyboard ballads accompanying the message of the song, being attempting to distract oneself in order to move on from heartbreak. However, the second track Everyone Left provides a tone shift in comparison to Sigh, with high octane instrumentals and a repetitious chorus. Shears evident usage of metaphor and similes in this song serve as a caution towards falling in love comparing it to “like riding a mother fucking bike they say/ just hit the ground running real fast okay?”, to sardonically ending the song with a sense of independency and loneliness by comparing the end of a relationship to turning off a light with “nobody there to show you the door.” The third track Suck it Up brings back the sense of longing portrayed in Sigh, with an optimistic hope in resparking the past relationship by seeing the past lover online hoping that she’ll “call and say hi”, but inevitably leads to succumbing to the reality of a one sided love and having to “suck up” the past feelings and retain the memories instead.
Straying away from love and heartbreak the fourth track Chicken Shit lyrically stands out as the most unique song on the album, with an infectious upbeat tempo resembling the fast paced instrumentals prevalent in The Garden’s All Access, with Fletcher recalling his 15 year old experience in the mosh pit with a group of skinheads that allude to a group of chicken shit, which Fletcher warns “keep an eye out for a chicken shit they travel in packs”. The fifth and sixth track on the album being Tighten the Reins and You won't like it focus on the process of trying to move on from a past relationship. In reference to the album title, the slow steady harmonic instrumentals in Tighten the Reins focus around the double repeated chorus with Shears using the reins to metaphorically allude to the bond in a relationship, which he loses hold of and tries to move on, even though the urge of “trying not to call her everyday” is still evident. While in contrast, the high-tempo video game like instrumentals in You won't like it focus on Shears trying to distract himself by repressing his feelings, even though his past lover is always on his mind with, “ I wonder what she's doing/ I wonder why I can't stop wondering why.” Shifting gears the seventh track I still don't know where everything went retains a slow steady ballad resembling Moneyman, focusing on appreciating what life throws at you, with Shears advising “if you’re getting something handed to you/ open up your eyes/ and not just the eyes you pretend to understand with,” while also wishing his past lover the best moving forward. Lastly, the eighth track All the Best is Shears first collab song featuring rapper Fat Tony, who opened for The Garden’s 2017 spring tour, starting with a fast upbeat tempo instrumentally resembling Dice, with Fletcher wishing his past lover all the best even if her feelings aren't reciprocated back since, “nowadays she can't even find the time/ to drop me a line,” to then shifting to a slow smooth rhythmic beat with Fat Tony closing the album with an optimistic message of maintaining friendship with, “anything you need I’ll be the one you could dial,” as both sides of the relationship move forward with someone new.
"Tighten the Reins" introspectively proves itself to be one of Fletcher’s most personal Puzzle albums with its heavy emphasis on love and heartbreak. Even though this album may seem like a break up album, it ties in all the phases of being in a relationship, with a strong positive focus on appreciating past memories and optimistically being able to move forward in life. When it comes to past lovers Shears advises to learn how to Suck it up and wish the past lover All the best.