If an Oscar nomination last year (for the Her OST) wasn’t enough for Arcade Fire member Will Butler to step out of the shadow of his older brother (and the band’s frontman), his debut solo album will certainly stop people from mixing Will with Win ever again.
Policy is everything you would expect – playful, spontaneous and annoyingly carefree. The album is mostly early 80s indie rock; all the songs work as standalone singles, yet sit perfectly together, taking you on a delightful musical journey.
Opener Take My Side is a stomping, classic rock piece rich with Arcade Fire song references. “Are you gonna take my side?” he pesters us in the catchy chorus. You’re highly tempted to, reckless though you know Butler is, because his energy is just irresistible.
You never know what he’s going to hit you with next. The keyboard solos sound as if they’re improvised on the spot. Suddenly, in Something’s Coming, he cackles deliriously before chanting out the chorus.
Cheekiness hits its peak in What I Want, which makes you suspect Butler just chucked whatever words came to his head into the lyrics. Just to give you an idea, they involve pony macaroni, a jar of squids and a chicken coop full of alligators.
But this is immediately followed by the album’s only ballad, Sing to Me. Startlingly delicate, Butler sings: “Oh, sing to me, sing to me/’Cause I’m tired, and I don’t wanna talk no more.” For once, he’s scared, and he’s begging for the tiniest bit of solace. Butler only gives you a glimpse of his vulnerable side, though. Right after, he picks up with the incredibly chipper Witness. He’s clearly enjoying the upper hand again. You can almost see him sticking his tongue out at you.