It’s really rare for one of the most successful bands of an era to have a member of lesser quality, even when there are six of them in the group. Will Butler, younger brother of Win, Arcade Fire‘s frontman, comes to prove this with his first solo album.
1. Take My Side 2. Anna 3. Finish What I Started 4. Son Of God 5. Something's Coming 6. What I Want 7. Sing To Me 8. Witness
Release Date: March 2015 Label: Merge Records Tracks To Notice: Take My Side, Anna, What I Want
It’s really rare for one of the most successful bands of an era to have a member of lesser quality, even when there are six of them in the group. Will Butler, younger brother of Win, Arcade Fire‘s frontman, comes to prove this with his first solo album. It’s the first release related to the group from Montreal after their own album ‘Reflektor‘ on 2013, apart from ‘Her‘ soundtrack, and it manages to have a small feeling of all the band’s works within only eight tracks.
A few days before Policy‘s release Will Butler was giving a song per day to The Guardian, most of them based on recent news from around the world; be it Madonna‘s fall or talks about Greek debt. They’re not included here, but they were the first taste we had from his ability as a songwriter. This ability might well be questioned when living in the shadow of Win Butler, but those five songs and mostly the album prove that he definitely has some nice ideas both musically (though of course not really new) and lyrically.
One of the best songs of the album is ‘Anna‘ with a mixture of synthesizer, saxophone and a hint of his sarcastic lyrics: “Take out the knife / sharpen it twice / and count all the money” he sings. ‘Policy‘ kicks off with ‘Take My Side‘, in a higher tempo, guitar based, rock ‘n’ roll that has one or two references in Arcade Fire‘s songs (‘City With No Children‘ and ‘Wake Up‘). Right after this pretty amazing intro the album slows down in ‘Finish What I Started‘ more than it should and more than Will’s ability. The same happens a bit later with ‘Sing To Me‘, another piano ballad. These two songs might were different if performed by Arcade Fire, but he’s alone here and in such slower, more melodic parts he seems naked on his own, without the band; even though Jeremy Gara is the one behind the drums.
Fortunately, the rest of the songs make up for those two. In ‘Son Of God‘ he goes with the acoustic guitar and the plead-to-God vocals on refrain (“I’ll be good“), while ‘Witness‘ feels like a twenty-something indie band from London and it closes the album with its saxophone that sounds like it has absorbed the irony of his lyrics. “Tell me what you want babe and I will get it, though it might take 3-5 business days, maybe longer” he starts on ‘What I Want‘ to continue rhyming “pony” and “macaroni” in a recipe he knows that contains both. A bit later he promises “If you told me that there was a war, I would fight until we were all free…” just before he add, just like a punchline, “…I said what about Tuesday night, are you free?“.
There’s more than that in the whole album, which is an easy listen with several songs standing out from the first time. If you also pay some attention to the lyrics, then those thirty minutes are quite close to great. If you’re looking for the depth or style of Arcade Fire here you’ll probably be disappointed, William Butler is doing things his way here and those we didn’t enjoy ‘Reflektor‘ will find ‘Policy‘ less satisfying as described here. But that’s how it should be. The world keeps moving on, Arcade Fire will never put out something like ‘Funeral‘ and the members will go on amazing us in more than one ways.