Will Butler (Arcade Fire
) has always been more than just another band member. After receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score and starting a news inspired
songwriting project, Butler must have believed in his solo output enough to offer up his very first album under his own name. Whether made from sheer boredom or the need to always stay creative, the debut works for Butler. Policy
isn't a groundbreaking record, but a typical debut album from an already established star. Clocking in at a short eight songs, Butler made sure to pack as many of his influences and interested sounds into these songs as possible. Where Butler fails to innovate he thoroughly entertains.
is definitely an influences record more so than an attempt to create his own sound. Filled with a litany of styles, the album gets going and never really slows down. The record has a non-stop energy that rarely slows down. Album opener "Take My Side" starts the record with a very 80's rock thumper. The kind of love song you put on at a dive bar, the punk bass line keeps a danceable groove as Butler sings, "I remember when we were pretty young/Where we'd often run together to the setting of the sun/Oh, we swore we're friends forever." The immediate follow up "Anna" moves in a completely different direction. A creepy bass heavy song, the lo-fi track is extremely simple focusing on Butler's bleak lines such as, "Someday, you know you're gonna die/Some folks'll try to tell you why /Where do you think they'll hide your bones?"
Butler pulls another strange shift by delving into a beautiful piano ballad. "Finish What I Started" is filled with regret and sadness, but it seems to end before it even really picks up. The message is short and simple. As Butler sings, "Someone please finish what I started/It's good enough, let me lie in the darkness," one could imagine him talking about this very song. For the most part, the album remains upbeat from there minus the piano heavy "Sing To Me. While musically more interesting, the song is very reminiscent of "Finish What I Started," which on such a short album is definitely an issue. Fortunately album closer ends things on an interesting note. "Witness" is a piano doo-wop influenced jam. The backup vocalists add a beautiful layer to the song that gives it so much more lie. Butler is conflicted again, but he's in good spirits now. Singing, "I saw something, I don't care if it's true/Just take me by the hand, tell me what's the plan/Though I'm pretty sure we're both of us screwed," Butler sounds like he doesn't give a damn as any good rock star does. As the horns pick up in the song, this diverse track definitely is the most rewarding on the album.
Although the album seems to end right when it is picking up, Butler was still able to showcase his musicianship in a mere 30 minutes. At only 8 songs, the tightness of the record should be commended, but one could only hope Butler had taken more time to flesh out these ideas. In some instances it feels like he is coasting when he should be pushing himself. Regardless, Policy
is a solid debut. Now that we know he can stand without his brother, his next solo output may dig a little deeper.
Watch the un-choreographed dance/lyrics video for "Anna" below, and get your copy of Policy here