Ben McKelvey's music has always come from a place of integrity and honesty; it's salt of the Earth, heart on the sleeve stuff delivered with a suitable urban edge. In the last few years, he's toured with Wet Wet Wet
who are no strangers to knocking out a memorable tune. Unlike Marti Pellow, Ben doesn't have a dreamy delivery: His vocal is more of an everyman, blue-collar style – think Paul Wellah or Bruce Springsteen - songs that feature big melodies, plenty of dynamics and raw energy. His debut album Life and Love In England was a commentary on society, youth culture, family, love and loss and Wild Child retains some of those themes but focuses on achieving your dreams, and living life to it's fullest. In some ways, it's a sequel, with our lead character leaving behind what he knew in the first album and carving out his destiny and doing some soul searching along the way.
Fire is an rousing album opener that has a memorable chorus, one of may you'll hear on the album. Change It Up is a punk style track about dusting yourself off and trying again no matter what. It's also got some fierce drumming that sees McKelvey letting rip on the drum kit in a nod to Keith Moon. It's not all full on though, he's adept at layering sounds and creating an atmosphere in the more passionate tracks like One More Day. The title track, Wild Child, is another energetic song about self-belief and 'holding on to teenage dreams'. It's beautifully laced with sadness about letting go of love and making grown-up choices. Ultimately it's a song that combines all the elements of McKelvey's songwriting in one smooth package. Lie To Me is another superbly crafted indie pop track, with McKelvey's vocals alternating between gritty and softly downcast. In spite of the heartache that our hero has had to face on his journey, Obvious, the final track, buoys the album up once again with the bounding guitar melodies and pulsating percussion that drives the album towards its final moments.
McKelvey's maturity as a songwriter has come to the fore on this record. His down to earth delivery and candid lyrics make him a songwriter who is not content to sit back on his laurels and cut the same groove. His refusal to get complacent about life or music is delivered with a passion that is often missing from modern music, and indeed the modern world. The album's fundamentally positive and inspirational outlook is enough to bring out the wild child in us all.
Groupie Rating 4/5