Will Butler: Policy (Merge) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, July 11th, 2020  

Will Butler

Policy

Merge

Mar 06, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


As the lesser-known sibling of indie rock royalty, Will Butler has it made. Away from his brother Win's every-day obligations of leading one of the globe's most revered bands, the Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist can focus on his own whims without too much pressure. Which is exactly why Policy comes as such a pleasant surprise.

Billed as an ode to the luminaries of classic American songwriting, this eight track collection is far removed from the James Murphy coiled dance-funk-pop of Arcade Fire's most recent effort, Reflektor. Instead, Butler draws on rustic instrumentation and blustery hooks to provide zip to an album oozing gusto and a good old-fashioned sense of song.

Sound familiar? Well, there's no getting away from the fact that faint hallmarks of Butler's day job bedeck these swooping cuts. But while those dazzle like a grandiose chandelier, Policy is left frayed and tattered, happy to exist as something incomplete but at the same time warmly completing.

It's the small things that get you. Butler crafts jaunting melody with unexpected nuances that tripwire through the entire record. "Anna" slides and shuffles along as indie-dancefloor filler, before a flourish of saxophone and grated piano strikes flip it into an avant-garde '80s behemoth. The striding, gospel-tinged march of "Witness" is just as pulsating, while "Son of God" swaggers into a burgeoning carousel of guitar and key.

On the slower end of the scale, "Sing to Me" is a play-it-safe return to the bosom of his indie-folk background. But, it's a small blemish on a record that is as refreshing for the listener as it is for Butler himself. A life in the background has considerable advantages. (www.butlerwills.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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