Will Butler – Policy Review

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

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