Will Butler is best known for being one of the multi-instrumentalists in Arcade Fire and younger brother of Win Butler. Though Win and wife Regine usually take center stage in Arcade Fire, Will is often the most memorable at live shows. His charismatic energy on stage commands an audience as he thrashes around and throws himself off the ropes surrounding the stage on their most recent tour. Having released his first solo album, Policy, in 2015, Butler’s sophomore release Generations finds a songwriter that has reached a more mature level in regards to piecing together an album.
Generations kicks off with distorted EDM type noise that merges into distorted beats in the style of The I.L.Y’s. As Butler’s vocals take over, he sings about the things that he’s had enough of before the song turns into a disco anthem reminiscent of the band where his bread is buttered. This style of electronica is repeated later on the album with the songs “I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know” and “Hard Times”. The sinister electronics start “Close My Eyes” however, it quickly morphs into a much happier melody with background harmonies and whistling that serve to brighten the feel of the song. The bright John Lennon piano and saxophone melodies on “Not Gonna Die” paint a happier backdrop than the message of the song. The darker lyrics of the track find Butler singing about the ways that he is not going to die and the likely ways in which he will die, surrounded by family in a hospital.
Generations is a more mature album than Policy in that Butler creates a cohesive narrative throughout. Will asking himself “What’s my place in America’s present? … me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, Mormon, Yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess. What do I do? What can I do? The record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.” Having recorded most of the album by self-recording in his basement, this is very much a journey that he partook of on his own. Butler also proves that he is adept at creating music on his own without having to rely on past sounds from Arcade Fire.