To be honest, I’ve been waiting a few years for this album from Wild Child. Early Wild Child always felt like an indie-folk band to me. Then the 2018 album Expectations came out and the soulful side of Kelsey Wilson started to shine through. Songs “Back & Forth” and “Think It Over” had some wonderful R&B flourishes. The songs were nestled into what again felt like an indie-folk album but something new had been introduced. Soon after Wilson started a soulful/R&B project in Austin she called Sir Woman. Sir Woman is a sassy-fun soul, R&B, funk project that emphasizes the strength of women. It’s clear from the sound of Wild Child’s new album that Wilson’s evolution has influenced their new album End of the World.
The album fitting opens with the song “Bottom” which for the first 9 seconds sounds like the start of an indie-folk song. Then a snare beat kicks in and the song picks up a gentle groove. The soulful background vocals fit so well. Then there is the attitude of the bottom line in this relationship. If things don’t change “I’ll send you right back home.” It’s a nice opening for the album and signals early that the band’s sound has shifted.
“Cheap Champagne” is a favorite cut from this album. Wilson emotes so well as her voice builds and drops again and again. The music builds nicely as the song progresses. The sound and production remind me of late Seventies soul songs from artists like Deniece Williams. It’s a song that pleads for commitment. I can listen to this one over and over.
The album's fourth track, “Dear John”, is a cleverly written song about an old boyfriend trying to slither his way back into his old girlfriend’s life. The song is catchy and has a bit of attitude.
The album’s title track, “End of the World”, opens with a bit of racket (distorted guitars, instruments being tuned) then drops into what I can only explain as a quiet guitar riff that eerily reminds me of Tenacious D’s opening to “Wonder Boy” before the bass drags the tune into a nice bluesy psychedelic rock. The song is fun, paranoid, and something very different.
“Photographs” is the track that will probably garner most of the streams. For Wild Child fans it may be the song that perfectly blends the band's old and new songs. You have Wilson’s soulfulness, Alexander Beggins’ backing vocals, a good mix of traditional instruments, and a soulful groove with a horn section backing.
For fans wanting a taste of early Wild Child the song “Sleeping In” is a lovely singer/songwriter ballad with a gentle steel guitar. The lyrics are lovely and sad. Sometimes we don’t know why relationships must end. I like the way the song shares what is being felt but doesn’t try to explain why leaving is necessary.
The album closes with the song “Wearing Blue.” This song, like much of the album, grapples with love and a relationship that is slipping away. It’s a lovely pop ballad and absolutely the right track to end the album.
“End of the World” did not disappoint. Wild Child has moved to a more soulful sound and done it very well. For me that’s great. I’m especially excited to see how that plays in their live shows. I’m also curious to see how their fanbase responds. This move isn’t as bold as the move Lucius made with their disco album Second Nature but it is definitely a change. Our hope is that, like Lucius, they keep their fanbase strong and add a whole new base of followers who connect with their new soulful sound.