Wild Child mash European pop with raw vocals
I first heard of Wild Child last semester when my friend came back from studying abroad and began gushing to me about their show in Paris. She quickly became obsessed and so did I, thinking I had discovered this cool, upcoming French band before anyone else.
Little did I know, they’re from Austin, Texas. But still.
Wild Child’s third studio album, Fools, delves even further into this foreign-sounding pattern; this effort reminds me more of Coeur de pirate — a French-Canadian singer-songwriter who produces fresh, indie-sounding tunes — than anything I’ve ever heard come out of Texas.
This is particularly evident on “Stones,” the fourth track that embodies a mix between Coeur and Ingrid Michaelson, as it bobs and flows up and down between melodies. Track seven, “Take It,” keeps the Coeur influence and bouncing beat, but also adds in a little Adele — a little European soul and sass — as lead vocalist Kelsey Wilson asks you to “take it, take it ... how about trusting when I’m not around?”
The whole sound of Fools is highly refreshing, highly different than the mass-produced, cotton-candy pop music so common today — even highly different from other American folk or indie bands, as it weaves in a European style that makes it obvious as to why a Texas band could sell a show halfway across the world.
The title track begins the album; Wilson coos, “thinking that I might go crazy. How am I supposed to breathe now, baby?” While Wilson’s voice is pure and beautiful, and the lyrics are enchanting, it’s neither of those that pull you into Wild Child’s latest effort. Rather it’s the fact that Fools sounds more like it was mixed in your hipster, audio-file friend’s basement than a master studio. It becomes highly apparent that Wild Child’s latest effort isn’t only special because of its unique foreign sound, but it’s also because of the deep connection between Wilson’s raw vocals and her listener.
Even more so than on previous albums, Wild Child sounds pure, simple and human on Fools — unprocessed, if you will. Wilson definitely takes center stage on all 12 tracks, but Alexander Beggins also makes equally enthralling appearances, most notably on “Meadows,” by far the standout track on the album.
“Meadows” begins as a little ditty, much like the majority of the tracks on the album, but it then builds to a crescendo halfway through that features much more obviously processed vocals that directly contrast with the raw allure of the first half of the song. As Wilson asks you to “rid your devils; run through fields of meadows,” the vocal processing mimics that diabolical feeling in its opposition to the soft, pure, angelic sounds at the start.
Fools is an album that slowly draws you in, getting better and better with each track. “Bullets,” track three, begins by sounding almost like a Christmas song. The chord progression and rhythm is oddly similar to “Jingle Bells,” but it ends up sounding more like a French-influenced indie-pop tune.
“Meadows” is the next big stepping stone as track five, followed by “Saving Face,” showing up in spot number eight. “Face” is the only true duet between Wilson and Beggins, and their soulful crooning really makes you believe their tale of a love-torn relationship.
“Trillo Talk” closes out the album, a seemingly-happy-sounding up-tempo number about a breakup: “you say I should have been a better babe, and you can go be a better babe for anyone else but me.” Starting with the voice in her head at the beginning of the phrase and slowly traveling to her lower register, Wilson conveys the sense of regret by adding a little rasp, a little edge, to her sound.
I can only imagine “Trillo Talk” to be an answer to “Rillo Talk,” the penultimate track on their previous studio album, The Runaround — a haunting ballad about trying to make a relationship work (but that’s kind of up for interpretation, as are much of Wild Child’s lyrics). On “Rillo,” Wilson’s voice is soft, dejected almost, and on “Trillo” she ramps it up, conveying her newfound couldn’t-care-less attitude about the relationship.
Wild Child will be in Ann Arbor on Halloween, seemingly appropriate to the spooky feeling behind Wilson’s voice. Ten out of 10 would recommend going, singing along to “Meadows,” calling the devil out to play the day after Devil’s Night.