The Runaround (Noise Company)
What a difference production makes. 2011 debut Pillow Talk proved Wild Child chieftains Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson can produce playful, pleasing melodies in their sleep, but its stripped-down style arrived somewhat too simplistic. Second LP The Runaround doesn't reclassify the local sextet's folk-pop as biting or fierce – this is a band that contributed music to a Purina Cat Food commercial, after all – but its beefier sound, emphasis on dynamics, and willingness to incorporate multiple instruments makes for a far more captivating listen. Credit Ben Kweller, who produced the disc as the inaugural release on his Noise Company imprint. The South Austinite's prodigious understanding of pop works wonders on The Runaround, from James Bookert's banjo pushing "Anna Maria" to the guesting brass assembly swinging around "Stitches." Elsewhere, album closer "Left Behind" evokes a previously unrealized darkness, while the perfectly cropped "Crazy Bird," with its well-placed violin licks and chorus line of whistles, proves the most radio-ready of the bunch. Still a little softer than wild, but definitely a more mature child.