steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Mojave 3

"Puzzles Like You" CD

4AD Records

Genre: dream pop, indie pop, folk pop

17-19 Alma Road
SW18 1AA

June 2006

In an indie scene saturated with AIDS Wolf, Wolf Eyes, and assorted wolves and STDs that hit you like a bat but make you dig for a decent pop hook, it's really refreshing when a group of old masters put out a charming, fully pleasant album like Puzzles Like You.

The fun starts with "Truck-Driving Man," a typically British pop number with a lush sound and a predictably infectious chorus; not among Mojave 3's best, but dreamy and uplifting nonetheless. This trend continues with "Puzzles Like You," while pre-release single "Breaking The Ice" shows why it was singled out with its continuously carefree, enjoyable sound. "Big Star Baby" and its "Here Come Your Man"-ish guitar part seems to be the record's second single, with a nice lap steel part adding a slight country touch. The slowish "You've Said It Before" is my pick for the record's hidden gem, with its soothing melody glistening like a true diamond in the rough (not that Puzzles Like You is at all rough). The same can be said about sleepy closer "The Mutineer," which is the perfect conclusion for this disc. Unfortunately a few of the middle tracks tend to drag a little - "Ghostship Waiting" is breezy but bland, and "To Hold Your Tiny Toes" injects some energy to the record but doesn't exactly stand out. However, none of these are particularly bad, just not on par with some of Puzzles' strongest moments. Overall, this album sets high expectations and fulfills them excellently. Thanks once again, guys.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released June 19 2006]