Policy is the debut solo LP from Arcade Fire’s Will Butler. Though with contributions from Jeremy Gara and various other musicians, most of the music here was played by Butler himself. Using traditional song structures and clean arrangements, Policy depicts a variety of clashing emotions, and recalls the best in American music both new and old: think the Violent Femmes, The Breeders, The Modern Lovers, Dylan and Smokey Robinson.
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(To sort of paraphrase the Two Ronnies) - “I see that Will Butler from Arcade Fire has made a new solo album….. it’s said to be the worst since records began”. Boom and indeed boom.
Its actually not that bad and my initial misgivings are receding slightly the more I listen to it. It starts off ok enough with ‘Take My Side’ - a kind of Parquet Courts-style lollop and is a perfectly serviceable piece of fun indie which introduces us to his whiney Tom Verlaine-ish voice. Out of that comes ‘Anna’ - a kind of despairing piece of early 80’s electro-pop complete with the kind of vocal ticks not heard nor seen since Lena Lovich’s last Top of the Pops appearance in 1981. Not content with raiding two completely differing styles, by the time he gets round to ‘Finish What I Started’ he’s in Nilsson ‘70s ballad territory. Who or what does he want to be? Does it matter really?
The album is a smorgasbord of styles - its like he’s compiled a mix tape of his favourite music and then tried to replicate it. On ‘Somethings Coming’ for example he tries unsuccessfully to be Rick James yet the album shows serious Split Enz influences throughout. He’s successful enough in his other career to do what the hell he likes and that’s exactly what he’s done. Nowhere near as bad as I’d suspected it to be but I have had to knock a mark off for him not calling it ‘A No Win Situation’. Get it? Come on!
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- Policy by Will Butler
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