There is a jagged rhythm to Will Butler’s new songs. Maybe you thought that after leaving Arcade Fire, Win’s little brother would make a relaxed finally-at-home album. But he wants to dance and pushes himself into the open air with his songs. The sound is more reminiscent of “Generations” (2020) than Butler’s solo debut from 2015. On “Policy” he played art-punk’n’roll like the Modern Lovers. Eighties electro-pop, black and white drum machines, bassy and warm, staccato keyboards, roasted live drums: that’s a little bit the sound of Arcade Fire, but Butler limits his resources in order to give his new songs a clear outline , nice to hear in the classic wave-pop of “Stop Talking”.
The desire for the subconscious is everywhere
Butler sings with a bohemian sound, a bit like Bowie, Byrne and Morrissey. But there’s also a bit of rock’n’roll, for example in the great “Willows”, in which a darkened acoustic guitar mediates between beat and synth. The chorus opens with big backing vocals sung by Sister Squares – Butler’s backing band includes wife Jenny Shore, her sister Julie Shore, singer Sara Dobbs and drummer Miles Francis. You can hear in some of the intros that the three women in particular can go to musically remote places. One leads into the sensual “Me & My Friends”, whose ghostly feeling is similar to that of Billie Eilish.
The singers are given even more space in “Good Friday, 1613”, which is constructed from falling and rising tones. The further the album unfolds, the more Butler dares to experiment, for example in “Car Crash”, which he croones and stretches out. The desire for the subconscious is everywhere – and the influence of art pop, which is nice to hear on “Arrow Of Time”, which is reminiscent of Robert Palmer. At the end it really goes outdoors: in the ghost disco rave “Hee Loop” and “The Window”, which is freely associated with the droning piano.
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