Greatest hits: album reviews

Album of the week: Policy by Will Butler of Arcade Fire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 March, 2015, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:48pm

Will Butler
Merge Records

As Canadian indie darlings Arcade Fire take a break from stadium touring their award-winning Reflektor album, the band's multi-instrumentalist Will Butler (and brother of frontman Win) has released a debut solo album almost as chaotic and captivating as his theatrical stage performances.

Stylistically it's all over the shop, with Butler obviously not feeling pressure to churn out a collection of diluted Arcade Fire B-sides. Maybe it's because he recorded these eight eclectic tracks almost entirely himself in a brisk three weeks - only fellow Arcade Fire member Jeremy Gara appears to provide the drums - that the unapologetic freedom to explore any musical whim invigorates Policy with a wild personal energy.

It kicks off with the album's highlight, Take My Side, a 1960s guitar-pop swinger fuelled with the raw playfulness of The Kinks, before the 1980s dark synth and sax groove of Anna, while the pulsating funk of Something's Coming leans on the Talking Heads. The alternative-folk ballad of Finish What I Started is the mournful bastard son of Lou Reed's Perfect Day, with Butler wallowing in beautiful melancholy, "I know what I want, what I wanted to say/ But the words in my mouth, I just swallowed away".

Elsewhere, the sunny upbeat Son of God is as close as it gets to the art-pop gospel of Butler's day job, the vocal delivery aping his older brother's distinctive harmonies. Closing with the doo-wop soul of Witness, another era and genre ticked off, Butler is clearly having fun here. The lyrics are blackly humorous throughout.

Policy burns euphorically bright, its passion and diversity clearly demonstrating that the Butler family is spoilt with more than one sonically fascinating voice.