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Will Butler – Policy

  • Published in Albums

Policy is the first proper solo outing of Arcade Fire’s multi-instrumentalist livewire Will Butler. Out of older brother Win’s shadow, and following on from his Oscar-nominated soundtrack for the film Her, Policy is a long overdue creative outlet for the younger Butler.

The record is a rickety collection of funky electro-pop and rock ‘n’ roll ditties in the mould of Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s deliberately stripped back from the lavish style of Arcade Fire and focuses predominantly on guitar and drum tracks. One comment that has been known to dog the hugely successful and popular Arcade Fire is an air of pretension. This is something Policy leaves at the door. Genres are traversed from the off as it opens with the restlessly rocky ‘Take My Side’ and leads swiftly into the electro-pop ‘Anna’ which gyrates with funky synths.

On stage with Arcade Fire, Will Butler darts around impatiently, changing instruments and bringing a chaos to one of the most measured and assured bands of the last decade. It’s this vigour that fuels Policy, as the album swings between forms and styles - but because of this, it is less a coherent record and more a compilation of tracks. This is especially noticeable as Arcade Fire’s best records, Funeral and The Suburbs have very clearly been painstakingly and perfectly constructed, not one by one, but as a whole.

It’s certainly testament to his skill that Butler has touched upon so many styles in an eight track record, but Policy’s impact is found wanting as it doesn’t fully quench any thirst. It catalogues what Will Butler has to offer, rather than simply offering it.

The bassy ‘Something’s Coming’ pulsates with fantastic energy and feels the most akin to more recent dancefloor-facing Arcade Fire releases from Reflektor, while ‘Son Of God’ takes a folksier turn, with a hymn-like chorus giving a more composed feel than other tracks on the album. ‘Sing to Me’ has a melancholy touch with a sleepy pace and closing track ‘Witness’ sounds as upbeat as a 1950s doo-wop track. Each track on its own is fun, and while not massively original, they are interesting. They just don’t seem to cohere with one another.

A collegiate poet, there’s an absurdity behind much of Butler’s lyrics, especially true in stand-out track ‘What I Want’ which is a fantastically fast-paced bizarre love song. The lyrics are absolutely mad, and equally fascinating. It will be a divisive song. He sings:

“I'm not suggesting that we should start having kids but maybe/We could think about getting a dog or a fish tank or a jar of squids/Or maybe just a chicken coop full of alligators.”

But within the youthful foolishness of the lyrics, you’ll find a really sweet love song which will definitely raise a smile as he concludes:

“I will go along with whatever you say/I'm not a details man I just wanna/Hang around and maybe get a chance to hold your hand.”

As previously mentioned, Policy is a creative outlet for a member of one of the world’s most acclaimed bands, and with a gruelling schedule Will Butler has penned eight enjoyable tracks with a run-time that is under half an hour. Each one has its own strength, but Policy as a whole is more of a cool compilation than a game-changing record, and because of this you can still expect to see Will Butler feverishly commanding the stage with his older brother and Arcade Fire.

Policy is available from amazon & iTunes.


The Hot Five - July #1

  • Published in Columns


The Hot Five – My favourite new tracks of the week, usually rounded off with a classic, obscure or alternate track from my music collection. Tracks usually concentrate on guitar-based music, but really focus on anything and everything that I come across.

Track of the week: Novo Amor & Ed Tullett – ‘Faux’

There aren’t many songs that captivate you from the first listen, but for me this was really one that really did. The track’s reverberating falsetto vocals remind me of Vancouver Sleep Clinic and London Grammar, and the sense of space created gives it a very current sound. There’s a beauty about the laid back, well-produced atmosphere that is created by Cardiff-based Ali Lacey and Brighton’s Ed Tullett in this collaboration, so it’ll be good to hear what these two artists come up with next.


George Ezra – ‘Cassy O’

It’s been a busy week for George Ezra… After a massive show at the John Peel, and a number of smaller gigs across Glastonbury over the weekend, Ezra’s debut album was released on Monday. This song was very well received by the large Saturday crowd, and has gained some acclaim despite never being released as an official single. The 21-year-old delivered an impressive performance, which suggests good things about Wanted On Voyage, which is available now.

Royal Blood – ‘Figure It Out’

Royal Blood were another band to emerge triumphant at Worthy Farm. I apologise if news from Glastonbury is getting rather frustrating or old now, but Royal Blood provided one of the most energetic sets of the weekend. New single ‘Figure It Out’ maintains the high quality heard in ‘Out Of The Black’, ‘Little Monster’, and ‘Come On Over’, with a great rock hook in the chorus that has embarrassingly got me playing air guitar around the house all day.

Seeing as this is Musos' Guide, I don’t feel bad in telling all you muso’s that Royal Blood are releasing a special edition white vinyl version of debut album Royal Blood. The album will be available from August 18.


Bon Iver – ‘Heavenly Father’

First thing’s first, this isn’t necessarily what I expected it to be. The sampling of Justin Vernon’s vocal at the beginning of this track disguises the track before that unmistakable Bon Iver vocal enters. There are some great harmonies in here, and the arrangement of the track is both creative and rewarding. ‘Heavenly Father’ will appear on the soundtrack to new movie Wish I Was Here, which stars ScrubsZach Braff.

Hidden track of the week: Arcade Fire – ‘Wake Up’

Despite pulling off one of the greatest headline sets I have ever witnessed, it seems that Arcade Fire have had the least attention of the three Glastonbury headliners this year. Potentially it’s because they’re the act that requires the least justification for a headline slot, while much media attention has focused on the more controversial inclusion of Metallica. A set crammed full of hits, riffs, and energy culminated in a massive rendition of the classic ‘Wake Up’, taken from their 2004 album Funeral.

You can follow Tom on twitter @tom_fake

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