Wild Child could have been another saccharine pop band. The boy/girl vocals, the bouncy ukulele, the group-sung hooks of nonsense syllables and the swells of strings could have added up to something sweet but dishonest, like those little candy hearts with the come-ons printed on them. On The Runaround, however, Wild Child charm to the bone. Co-bandleaders Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins retain their knack for buoyant melodies (as demonstrated on 2011’s Pillow Talk), yet their newfound penchant for a smart, organic layering of instruments (for which you may thank producer Ben Kweller) takes this album to new emotional depths.
“Coming Home” starts as a regular Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin duet—just Wilson and Beggins singing about love over a wistful, strumming uke—and then drums and bass drop in at the bridge, kicking off a folky tidal wave of rising and falling action that washes into a tender refrain. “Crazy Bird” is especially infectious, with its bouncy whistled hook. Many tracks here are impossibly catchy, and they run deep enough to demand repeat listens.
With its fluid soundscapes and insistent charm, The Runaround establishes Wild Child as an indie-folk powerhouse destined for national acclaim.
– Kevin Allen