On Will Butler’s debut album, “Policy” (due March 10 via Merge) the Arcade Fire vet known for his freakout stage antics (seen here headbanging next to brother Win) bounces between the abundance of influences found throughout AF’s four-album catalog.
Opening with the polished garage-rock burner “Take My Side,” Butler’s rhythmic bop sounds like a re-recorded take of a lost “December’s Children (and Everybody’s)”-era Stones cut.
Buoyed by fellow Arcade Fire member Jeremy Gara on drums, Butler commences his first solo effort shouting “Where’s the fire?” with an attitude that sounds like he’s not missing the expansive scope (and basketball dreams) of his usual outfit.
After “Take My Side,” Butler updates his influence roster a decade or two on “Anna,” a synth-heavy single that sounds like a little like Billy Idol covering Blondie’s “Rapture.” With slight heavy-handed lyrics about money and a “Sweet Caroline”-esque wordless refrain, “Anna” is the closest Butler gets to chiefing Arcade Fire’s disco-era influence on “Reflektor.”
Between the album’s varying sounds and its bizarre press release (supposedly written by blues god Memphis Slim) comparing Butler to American music “in the tradition of the Violent Femmes, The Breeders… and John Lennon,” it’s clear that the album’s lack of cohesion isn’t Butler’s primary concern. Rather, “Policy” is Butler’s foray into solo revelry, with each song blooming as a perfect experiment outside the confines of the genre moulds they play with.