Arcade Fire was never the most solid of units: although members Richard Reed Parry and Tim Kingsbury have hung around for nearly two decades, the only member remaining from the band’s initial formation back in 2001 is lead singer Win Butler. Increasingly over the band’s evolution, Butler had been seen as the de facto leader, but that still left room for others to contribute, namely Butler’s wife Régine Chassagne and his brother Will.
Just as the band were announcing their sixth studio album WE in early 2022, however, Will Butler announced that he had left the group at the end of 2021. While he was leaving his most famous project, Butler insisted that he was still creating music, and now we’re getting the first taste of that music with the new singles ‘A Stranger’s House’ and ‘Nearer to Thee’.
‘A Stranger’s House’ is the eerier of the two tracks, featuring little more than Butler’s voice, some vamped piano chords, what sounds like spoons clacking together for percussion, and the sound of a baby’s voice occasionally cropping up. The track is a solid slow burner, but eventually, it opens up into a fuller arrangement with electronic touches. ‘A Stranger’s House’ strikes a nice middle ground between stark lo-fi and slick electronica, and Butler’s voice rings strong and true at the track’s centre.
Although hit’s comparatively less ambitious, ‘Nearer to Thee’ is still wonky and atypical for indie rock. Everything in the track, from the vocals to the instruments to the message, feels like they’re actively trying to separate themselves from the listener. Maybe that’s supposed to be ironic, but ‘Nearer to Thee’ winds up feeling a bit more muddled and less purposeful than ‘A Stranger’s House’ does.
Both songs represent the first new music that Butler has released under his own name since 2020’s Generations. Along with the new tracks, Butler will be heading out on a brief North American tour in August. You can check out those seven tour dates down below.
Check out the video for ‘A Stranger’s House’ and the audio for ‘Nearer to Thee’ down below as well.
Will Butler 2022 North American tour dates:
Aug 11th | Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
Aug 12th | Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount
Aug 13th | Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
Aug 14th | Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe
Aug 19th | Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Made
Aug 20th | Washington, DC – DC9
Aug 21st | Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s