Today, Will Butler released his debut solo album, Policy. Longtime Arcade Fire fans have vastly differing opinions on the less famous Butler brother. Some think of him as a coattail rider, acting like a spaz on stage with a band with which he has no business being on stage. Others, such as myself, look at him as an important multi-instrumentalist and bringer of manic energy. His behavior in the early days was crazy, even a little scary, and I’ve always enjoyed him. What he’s done with his solo career is a surprise by any estimation.
The video for his second single, “Anna,” hooked me. Here we see the crazy dancing Will Butler singing over an infectious Brian Eno era Talking Heads groove. It’s fantastic.
During the run up to the release of the solo album, he took a surprising turn and started releasing a song a day for the Guardian, each one inspired by that day’s news events. Both as experiment and artistic expression, these songs worked better than anyone could have hoped.
Finally, his album hit streaming today, and it’s a quick 8-song snapshot of someone who’s been in a popular band, his talents being hidden behind an attention grabbing front man, showing that his own songwriting chops may have been driving the Arcade Fire train the whole time. Is Win the coattail rider, perhaps? This album is more breezily enjoyable than Reflektor was, not that this is a competition. You can listen to it on Spotify by clicking below:
What will the live Will Butler experience be like? Is he going to be stuck behind the microphone, or will stage diving be involved? I really hope the latter. You’ll be able to see Will Butler all over Austin during SXSW Music — the SPIN and Pitchfork parties, and a recording of the Song Exploder Podcast, but his official showcase is Friday night on Maggie Mae’s rooftop. It’ll be crowded up there.