By Alex Jones
Part of the Arcade Fire family, Will Butler may not have been your first guess for which member of the nine strong indie legends would stray into solo territory. Then again, there’s so damn many of them, any bet would’ve been an outside one.
The bassist/keyboardist/percussionist takes centre stage on this, his first full-length release away from the band. Actually, calling it “full length” might be a bit deceiving. Policy is only eight songs long and is over and done with before we reach the half hour mark.
So what does this spawn of Arcade Fire sound like? Well things don’t get off to a great start. ‘Take My Side’ sounds like your bog standard American rock album track from the 80’s and is about as forgettable.
Next up is ‘Anna’…and wait a minute? Is this the same album? For a record so brief, it has a hell of a lot of mood swings. Sounding like a Beck b-side, it has a bassline which bears an uncanny (and unfortunate) resemblance to the novelty Internet hit ‘Brodyquest‘.
Fortunately things start to pick up. ‘Finish What I Started’ is a reflective piano ballad that really shows off Butlers’ vocal prowess whereas ‘Son of God’ revisits the Suburbs sound Arcade Fire created so effectively on their third album.
‘What I Want’ continues this classic Arcade Fire sound, albeit with some psychedelic lyrics thrown in for good measure. It’s the best track on the record and marks the peak of Butlers’ songwriting ability.
Alas, Policy only showcases glimpses of greatness. It’s a schizophrenic effort, and due to its short run time, none of these ideas get the space they need to really thrive. For the Arcade Fire faithful it’s well worth a listen but for the uninitiated it’s a release that lacks focus.