• Ryan Hope

'The Runaround' by Wild Child: Encapsulating the Highs and Lows of Tumultuous Love

The Runaround, Wild Child’s sophomore project, sees the duo expand their uniquely home-grown style of indie-folk into a new era of radio-ready hooks bound by sleeker, more stylistic production. Held down previously by low-budget production on their debut Pillow Talk, here the band’s award-winning artistic vision of stripped-back and organic folk is explored with greater professionalism whilst remaining fiercely independent.

Compared to the duo’s previous work, The Runaround’s mixing is notably superior. Wild Child’s defining lo-fi aesthetic is present here but significantly improved; unlike in their previous LP where a particular amateurish quality bled through, with harsh clipping frequently finding its way through the mixing process that made some songs mostly unlistenable. Instances of clumsy mixing are almost absent throughout this project, making for a significantly greater listening experience than what I had initially expected from a follow up album. Production also sees a notable uptick in quality, with a more cohesive direction that strings the tracks together neatly into a consistent group of songs clearly presented in a narrative fashion.

The opener and title track ‘The Runaround’ serves as an introduction to the turbulent relationship the project seems to embody. Its high energy and high emotional stakes are heightened through bouncy piano passages and crashing percussion; Wilson’s vocal performance is impressive and the instrumentation sets the tone perfectly for the coming volatility of songs like ‘Victim to Charm’ and the insanely catchy ‘Crazy Bird’ (that unforgettable whistled melody). The first leg of the record is exemplary of incredible songwriting paired with elegant, yet still admirably homegrown, production that is iconically Wild Child.

At times the LP’s cohesion risks sounding ‘same’y and monotonous, with the instrumentation only occasionally varying beyond a baritone ukulele, piano, and a string section. Despite the instrumental limitations, it never fails to contort its sonic direction in someway to keep things fresh, often through the duo’s creative and eccentric lyricism or obscure production choices. Admittedly, a lull does hits roughly midway through the tracklist, with a series of low-energy, acoustic ballads that amalgamate unsatisfyingly into a blur of seemingly indifferent concepts. Tracks like ‘Anna Maria’, ‘Here Now’, and ‘This Place’ all stand individually as luscious examples acoustic balladry that would be much better served if spaced out evenly among the tracklist, instead they are resolved to draining the pace of the record to a grinding halt.

Regardless of the hiccup in pacing, the creative duo manage to craft a solid ending to the record, with the last leg featuring distinctly mellow production on 'Rillo Talk’ and the upbeat number ‘Living Tree’ more akin to the earlier tracks on the LP. The closing song, ‘Left Behind’, is a sombre reflection on the eventualities of life, and an ode to the idea that change is natural - “we were born to change our minds”. The message and its lyricism is powerful, and is a perfect closer for an album so indecisive, much like the relationship it’s representing. Wild Child perfectly encapsulate the tumultuous highs and lows of love, through gripping melodic hooks and earnest songwriting - it’s honest and open, unafraid to show the realities of modern partnership; and its entirely worth your time.