Arcade Fire’s rhythm guitarist Will Butler has often been the solid backing in what at times can be quite a chaotic band musically, that shifts and spirals around his brother’s slick and meandering vocals. Now with his solo debut, Will himself now gets to take charge with his own brand of slick meandering with Policy. At eight tracks long it’s a sharp and rapid album with quick-fire tracks and rapid rotations and progressions. It certainly looks like a break from Arcade Fire’s recent body of work and offers up a new/old approach that harks back to their early days. A nostalgic revisit or a revitalised take?
The lead single from his album is ‘Take My Side’. It demonstrates a keen sense of jangling, slightly distorted riffs and sharp percussion. With a vocal very much akin to his brother Win, the track almost sounds like an earlier Arcade Fire track, but the track doesn’t offer much in the way of quirks and new ideas. It is very much an indulgence in a garage tinged pop song that is well worn, but well delivered nevertheless. ‘Anna’ is an endlessly infectious and jiving track that’s lead by nudging riffs and sharp percussion. It offers up an indelible hook that goes on to reel off urgent piano spills that bookend Will’s vocal progression from whirring to shrieking vocal. The track continues to build up it’s infection of rhythm with the addition of a saxophone to amplify it only further. A wonderfully urgent and rapid track.
‘What I want’ is another whirlwind track with brisk rhythms and bass-lines with a wondrous enthused energy about it. Such an energy that’s more prominent from his near breathless delivery of his random and Jarvis Cocker-like witty lyrics and is one of the highlights of the album. The album opens with ‘Witness’ and is a soft-edged piano romp with the rapid chords intercepted by Will’s rapid vocal delivery almost between each key and the whole instrumental is accentuated by the harmonious backing vocals. ‘Something’s Coming’ offers up a bit of fuzz tinged funk that’s driven by the low lying bass line and the bear whimsical backing vocals and disco-like laser effects yet enters into a bit of unorganised chaos at times, but you get the feeling that was his intention anyway. The piano swoons and acoustic rambling that fill the rest of the track do offer up a nice break between the pent up energy of the other tracks but they do feel a little out of place. The strong points of the album are those moments of unrefined energy and enthusiasm that really kick on the album with little remorse. Sure it’s nothing special but it’s pretty damn enjoyable and the organised chaos of Policy is something everyone needs from time to time.
Will Butler – Policy = 7/10
The finest generators of fuzz pop in California have announced their third studio album ‘California Nights’ and have released the title track this week as well. Best Coast have very much been proprietors of upbeat and optimistic surf-rock from their first two albums and whilst it wonderfully vibrant and light hearted, even with more tragic lyrical matter that their more ‘edgy’ counterparts Bleached and now ‘Ex Hex’ are offering up. Either way they need to offer up another perspective on their sound and it seems that ‘California Nights’ is the answer. The song has a completely spaced out riff and is minimalistic instrumentally on the whole with simple drum sections and light, solid riffs that carve a path through the subtle, yet vast expanses of the song. Nothing more is needed on the instrumental front due to the sweeping and far reaching vocals from Beth Cosentino who delivers almost a haunting vocal that extends just as far as the instrumental expanses. Even though her vocal ability is well known it’s a revelation in this track that is accentuated by the slight echo put upon it. ‘California Nights’ signals a more mature and considered approach from an already solid group as they begin to flex their creative muscles.
Reflektor’ is a single from Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album Reflektor that was released in 2013 and produced by the great James Murphy. The album may not have the complete quality of their third album, but it was still a very strong album and it largely made up their up-beat and simply wondrous Glastonbury headliner. The track has percussion and a rhythm riff that creates a solid hook. The vocals are spaced out well and sit perfectly above the instrumental core with the switch to French on the bridge keeping you on your toes and adding to the variety. The burst of the horns too; gives the hook an extra kick as well. The song goes on to take up a highly atmospheric build up and instant fall as it realigns itself back to normal which is something which won’t fail you when done in such a way. Even Bowie makes a brief appearance too. Despite being crammed full of different elements and three different vocals; nothing kills off anything else and they’ve utilised the plus seven minutes they had to good effect to really spread everything out and keep the atmospheric quality of it as well as retaining a lot of room for the different sound progressions and melodies.
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