Wild Child

Expectations (Dualtone)

Texas Platters

Since Wild Child's 2011 debut Pillow Talk, the bittersweet vocal interplay of Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins has built ever more exuberant pop. Three full-lengths later, Expectations subtly modifies that formula. Opening with the ukulele charm of "Alex" and soft sway to "Eggshells," the album begins in familiar territory before Wilson takes control with the punchy, Sara Bareilles-styled "Back & Forth." She emerges as the local septet's driving force behind a vocal range that stretches alongside her maturing explorations of heartbreak and revival. Her latter-half highlight "Sinking Ship" drifts lightly with a Joni Mitchell touch against the torching "My Town," even as "The One" and "Goodbye Goodnight" duet coyly. Without sacrificing Wild Child's signature pop swell, Expectations emerges soulful and serious. (CD release: Saturday, Feb. 10, at Empire Control Room)

***.5

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