The songs on the album were all written by Kim's father and successful 50s rock and roll singer Marty Wilde and by her younger brother Ricky Wilde and most of the music was played by the then current line-up of the symphonic rock band The Enid. Production duties were fulfilled by Ricky Wilde. The cover portraits were taken by renowned British photographer Gered Mankowitz.
Musically, the album was mainly new wave and rock-oriented, but it also featured a reggae track ("Everything We Know") and a brass section appeared on "2-6-5-8-0". Lyrically, Marty Wilde included love songs and also a song ("Water on Glass") about tinnitus (a medical condition that causes ringing in the ears), a song about the deterioration of inner cities ("Our Town") and a song about a theory that sound is alive ("Tuning in Tuning On").
The album entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 10, moving into the Top 3 the next week; the album was certified Gold by the BPI for sales exceeding 100,000 copies. During promotion, Kim's band consisted of Ricky Wilde, James Stevenson and later boyfriend Calvin Hayes, who also appeared on the sleeve of the album. Kim later commented that, at that time in the industry, it was passé for a female to attempt to launch a serious career in pop music on her own, and that the backing band had been shown on the sleeve to give credibility to the album. Still, she was accused of trying to copy the allure of US band Blondie. The album was released in North America on 6 April 1982, reaching No. 86 in the US and No. 42 in Canada.
Kim Wilde received generally positive reviews from contemporary critics. Commending the mix of up-tempo and slower tracks as well as Wilde's versatility, Australian publication The Chronicle found "Water on Glass" to be "reminiscent of some of the early 60s rock" and highlighted "Our Town" as "one of the best tracks", comparing the subject matter to Simon & Garfunkel's "My Little Town". Donald Robertson of Roadrunner magazine called the three singles "masterpieces" and concluded that the "pure pop" album was "fun to listen to when you're having fun". Eric Chappe called the album an "immediately striking disc", citing the "'60s girl group mannerisms" and "Spector-esque drum sound" of "Water on Glass" while drawing comparisons to both Dusty Springfield and Debbie Harry.
Writing for The Globe and Mail, Alan Niester again compared Wilde to Dusty Springfield and Debbie Harry, but called "2-6-5-8-0" and "You'll Never Be So Wrong" "extremely promising", describing the latter as "a moody and captivating ballad that stands head and shoulders above all the Blondie and Pat Benatar simulations."Smash Hits magazine sarcastically suggested "this is the best Blondie album for a couple of years" but expressed hope that the singer would assert herself more in the future.High Fidelity's Mitchell Cohen found Wilde's voice alternately "plaintive" and "shrill" but described the album as "entertaining" and "a lot of fun", again drawing comparisons to the music of the 1960s. Mike Nicholis praised Wilde's voice and individuality despite comparing the reggae-influenced "Everything We Know" to "The Tide is High" by Blondie, released the previous year. Calling "Tuning in Tuning On" a "clever closer", Nicholis suggested that the track provided "requisite experimentation" and could indicate a new synth-driven direction for the singer; a prescient prediction with regards to the sound of her subsequent albums.