WILD CHILD FREE WITH RSVP!
Wild Child doesn’t want a place to hide. Song after song, town after town, they’ll wear their hearts on their sleeves, addicted to the rush that only comes when thousands of strangers know all your secrets and sing them back to you, because they’re their secrets, too.
“It's not necessarily the performing that's addictive, but being able to connect with that many people at once,” says Kelsey Wilson, who shares lead vocal and songwriting responsibilities with Alexander Beggins. “You feel like you're together in something––like you experience the whole thing together. It’s family therapy with a lot of dancing.”
2011’s debut album Pillow Talk notched four no. 1 singles on indie pulse monitor Hype Machine, spurred on by music bloggers who fell early and hard for the ebullient group. 2013’s The Runaround upped the ante, making best-of lists and garnering glowing reviews and write-ups from NPR, Paste, Popmatters, and many others. Then Wild Child hit TV, performing on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and serving as the featured artists on CBS Saturday Morning. Since forming five years ago when Kelsey and Alexander met during a stint as members of a backup band for a Danish artist’s U.S. tour, Wild Child has gone from playing shows for nine people to selling out venues across North America and Europe.
Not bad for an indie outfit who, up until now, has been thriving without radio spins or record label muscle. And it all started when two Texas kids too scared to sing for crowds discovered they wrote hauntingly good songs together.
Wild Child recorded Fools at Doll House Studios in Savannah, Georgia. Produced by Peter Mavrogeorgis and David Plakon with additional tracks helmed by red-letter guest producers Max Frost (“Break Bones”) and Chris "Frenchie" Smith (“Trillo Talk”), Fools reveals that while the band has grown up to become fiercely skilled musicians who have charmed the world, their faces remain grinning and often painted, spirits stubborn and free, barbs sharp and cathartic.
While writing for the album, Kelsey split from her fiancé of five years, then watched as her parents divorced. “It was the first time that I'd ever had writer’s block,” she remembers. “Within a week, all of the lyrics just came out.”
“She used this album as a platform to say a lot of things she wanted to say,” Alexander says. “It's a story that's not exactly linear, but you hear someone going through something.”
Kelsey and Alexander co-wrote all of the record’s songs, while the title track was penned together with the entire band––a first for the group. A complexly layered, funky gem, “Fools” saunters as Kelsey and Alexander sigh, “If you have to go / I’ll play the fool,” a sly acknowledgement that no matter what else is going on in the relationship, it’d be easier to hold on than to let it fall apart.
The act of consciously playing the fool shows up repeatedly throughout the record, and Wild Child flaunts a postmodern comfort with perspective’s slippery grip on truth. “The Cracks” pulses with uncertainty as Kelsey delicately cries, “You went too far, went way too far / We went too far, went way too far;” while in “Bullets,” she croons, “I know you think I took a lot from you.” “Meadows” asks a lover how much they’re willing to sacrifice, while “Take It” and “Reno” tackle separation and trust.
“Break Bones” is a stunner––a big, bold, beautiful pop song praying a fight continues indefinitely, because that’s all that’s left. “Trillo Talk,” a last minute addition to the record and an ideal closer, winks to previous album fan favorites “Pillow Talk” and “Rillo Talk,” and soars triumphantly. “It’s the last thought––everything is going to be okay…but it's not. But, it feels alright,” Alexander says.
Vocally, Alexander strolls – steady and wry – as Kelsey skips, runs, and hops, all whirly energy and instinctive phrasing. “I think my voice just sits nice underneath hers,” Alexander says, simply and accurately. “The two of us never really intended to be singers and still don't really consider ourselves singers,” says Kelsey, without a hint of irony. NPR’s Ann Powers likened her voice to that of a “Jazz Age Broadway baby,” but bring up that and other praise, and Kelsey just laughs and emphasizes, “I don't think of myself as a singer. I think of it just like talking. We're just having a conversation.”
In their musical repartee, Wild Child doesn’t pull punches. Their songs sting as they groove, the scutting lyrics massaged by cooing vocals and bouncy ukulele. So we’re dancing and laughing before we realize we’ve got tears in our eyes, entranced by Wild Child’s dizzying contradiction: sour truths that sound so sweet.