Having been in one of today’s biggest bands for over ten years, Will Butler has earned a reputation as one of Arcade Fire’s most creative and passionate members. Whilst it’s unfair to make comparisons between his debut solo effort and his band’s material, it would be naïve not to recognise certain similarities. This is the music Will has been making for over a decade, not just playing live until now.
‘Policy’’s eight genre-hopping, multi-instrumental tracks clearly illustrate Will’s obvious talent and versatility as a songwriter. The upbeat, sing-as-though-your-life-depends-on-it guitar pop of ‘Take My Side’, ‘What I Want’ and gospel-esque closer ‘Witness’ is closest to what would be expected of him as a solo artist. But the deep, lamenting piano ballads, ‘Finish What I Started’ and ‘Sing To Me’, as well as the more experimental, 80s synth efforts, ‘Anna’ and ‘Something’s Coming’ reveal a very different, much darker side to the otherwise infectiously enthusiastic character he channels onstage.
‘Policy’’s eight genre-hopping, multi-instrumental tracks clearly illustrate Will’s obvious talent.
However, when it comes to the themes of the record, it’s often the most upbeat tracks that possess Will’s most questionable lyrics, namely his penchant for dark humour. Struggle is something which stands out throughout the album, whether it’s with religion, relationships, the human experience, the past or the future. “The Lord, the Lord is watching/But he’s not your friend,” he declares in ‘Something’s Coming’. Whilst in ‘What I Want’, he croons, “I can feel my heart beating out of my chest / I apologise if I get heart blood all over your nice floral dress.” What a charmer.
For such a short album, ‘Policy’ covers a hell of a lot of ground. Every song has its own character, with each one further clarifying Will as a great musician and songwriter in his own right, as though there were any doubts.