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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Will Butler – “Policy”

By: Kayla Beattie –




Will Butler - PolicyMulti-instrumentalist and composer Will Butler will release his debut solo LP Policy on March 10 apart from the large ensemble of Arcade Fire, from which he has gained prominence.  Will is younger brother to Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler and became well-known for his impressive musicality as a core member of the band, contributing synthesizers, bass, guitar, and percussion, as well as his spontaneous antics during live performances.

Policy boasts eight dynamic tracks, which Butler recorded in only one week in the infamous Electric Lady Studios – the room that Jimi Hendrix built.  Arcade Fire mixed much of their last record in this same space, most notably David Bowie’s cameo on “Reflektor”. For Policy, Butler played nearly every instrument himself aside from bandmate and drummer Jeremy Gara, and a few Arcade Fire members on background vocals. Butler also gained acclaim for his work on the original score for Spike Jonze’s 2014 movie Her, for which he earned an Oscar nomination.

The album clearly pulls from a wide range of Butler’s musical imagination ­with a press release citing “the Violent Femmes, the Breeders, the Modern Lovers, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, the Magnetic Fields, Ghost Face Killah and John Lennon” – and tracks span from garage rock on “Take My Side” to 80’s new wave dance on “Anna.” Arcade Fire’s anthemic ingredients and layered voices appear on “What I Want”, while Butler adds his own creative twist. On slower songs “Finish What I Started” and “Sing to Me” , Butler showcases melancholy introspection to make the album a well-rounded affair.

Butler develops his lyricism across Policy, and his thoughtful mind and wordsmith ability shine with insight that echoes Win and Regine’s penchant for youth’s forlorn existentialism. “Someday, you know you’re gonna die / Some folks’ll try to tell you why / Where do you think they’ll hide your bones? / Out in the field, oh, all alone / Nobody knows when it will end / You better go and make some friends” from  “Anna”, or “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, so before you run and hide, just tell me / Are you gonna take my side?” on “Take my Side.”

Policy is a right fit for fans of Arcade Fire and indie rock in general. Recent YouTube footage of Butler playing tracks off the new album at a secret show in Brooklyn reveals the artist’s quirky dance moves and engagingly spacey demeanor qualify him as a frontman in his own right.

Essential Tracks: “What I Want”, “Anna”, and “Son of God”


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