Wild Child Blows Up


“Since you’ve been gone, a couple things have changed.” – Kelsey Wilson, “Anna Maria”

I remember running into Alexander Beggins, one half of the lead duo of Wild Child, at a New Year’s Eve party before ringing in the year of 2012. He told me animatedly about a new song Wild Child had been working on called “Anna Maria,” and how much I would enjoy it when I heard it. At that time, Wild Child had recently topped the Hype Machine with “Pillow Talk,” the title track from their late 2011 debut album, and had played their album release party to a sold-out Parish. Things certainly had changed from even months earlier when Wild Child drew only a modest audience to a daytime slot at the old Beauty Bar. Wild Child just had no idea how prophetic this statement would prove.

Two weeks ago, Wild Child released The Runaround, their sophomore album, and the world appears to be their oyster. With upwards of 17,000 Facebook likes, they have accrued more fans in that medium than Ringo Deathstarr or the Bright Light Social Hour. They have more Facebook likes than The Eastern Sea, SORNE, Feathers and Pure X combined. Or perhaps you’d prefer to think of it as more than Mother Falcon, SPEAK and Dana Falconberry combined. Either way, their Spotify play counts blow all of these bands out of the water. On Spotify, Wild Child has accrued more streams than BLSH, RD, Max Frost, Black Joe Lewis, and even local indie stalwarts Okkervil River. Wild Child’s debut album, Pillow Talk has amassed somewhere around 5 million streams on Spotify as of this past weekend. It’s safe to say that a couple things have changed.

The same is true for Wild Child’s music on The Runaround. The best example of this might be “Coming Home,” which begins as just another softly-strummed, cutesy, acoustic love song. Pillow Talk was filled with this kind of precious material that conducts converts and critics with equal intensity. However, just over halfway through the track, the full band explodes into the picture. The drums and piano pound out an insistent beat, and the chorus grows a pair of handclaps, a banjo, and possibly a trombone. What before would have been a sketch of song is a full-fledged hoedown.

The Runaround is full of this new energy (perfect for moving the larger and larger crowds at their shows). Singles like “Crazy Bird” and the title track bounce and pop in ways that felt previously unimaginable from Wild Child. Wilson and Beggins no longer sound like two former lovers, fresh off a break up, gingerly stepping around sensitive situations. Now there is an easy kind of confidence that comes with a band at the top of its game. These two singles are easily better than anything off of their debut, even the vaunted “Pillow Talk.”

That swagger leads to the experimentation of a song like “Rillo Talk,” where Wild Child mix an arpeggiated mandolin with an electronic drum machine. There are flourishes throughout of floor toms, cello double stops, and a floating bass line that make it a fascinating song to listen to.

On my first listen through The Runaround, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought. It wasn’t what I was expecting from a Wild Child record. However, the more times I listen through it, the more I shed my preconceived notions and appreciate that Wild Child has made a record that immeasurably broadens the scope of their sound, while still sounding true to their core aesthetic. It’s an incredibly difficult task to accomplish. And they do it well.

Two Fridays ago, when Wild Child celebrated their record release here in Austin, they did it in the spacious Moody Theater. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of things continue to change.

– Carter Delloro