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Will Butler + Sister Squares - Will Butler + Sister Squares (Album Review)

Thursday, 28 September 2023 Written by Jack Press

Photo: Alexa Viscius

When Will Butler left Arcade Fire after recording ‘We’, he said it was “time for new things.”  Given that he was already three solo records deep at that stage, the statement suggested a possible handbrake turn in his near future. But the fuzzy synths, feel-good melodies, and frenetic pacing of 2020’s ‘Generations’ are all present ‘Will Butler + Sister Squares’, and so is the nagging feeling that we’re listening to Arcade Fire from another dimension, rather than anything new.

Sister Squares is composed of Jenny Shore, also Butler’s wife, her sister Julie, their childhood friend Sara Dobbs, and percussionist producer Miles Francis as one collective. Together, they create a multiverse of worlds, miniature playsets that collapse only to be rebuilt. Mostly, it makes sense.

If Arcade Fire offer extroverted sounds for introverts, Will Butler + Sister Squares is existential music for extroverts hellbent on partying at the end of the world.

Stop Talking is all funky basslines and glitchy synths, while Saturday Night’s carnival drumbeats and glimmering keys bring post-pandemic partying to your headphones. Arrow Of Time shakes up Tame Impala’s sunkissed psych with The White Stripes’ chaotic garage-rock.

Beyond the rhythm and grooves is a long drive through the sonic plains. But buckle up, because it’s a bumpy ride with an unreliable narrator. Some of it is really good: slow-burning piano and lo-fi vocals leave Car Crash’s comedowns lingering in your mind while I Am Standing In A Room’s fourth-wall breaks, spoken word monologues, and never-ending piano chords convince you you’re listening to Leonard Cohen on an acid trip. 

Some of it is not so good. Hee Loop’s reverberating synths, offbeat drums, and frenetic funk is a chaotic clash of noise that feels like Midsommar’s cult circling around you. Me & My Friend’s stomping percussion chugs along like a train running out of steam. And, worst of all, its closing four songs fail to land, leaving you wishing they’d simply called it a day with the masterful I Am Standing In a Room. 

Will Butler And Sister Squares Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri November 17 2023 - LONDON ICA
Sat November 18 2023 - DUBLIN Whelans

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