Alex Vargas – Shackled Up

Pop so good I listened to it 107 times before writing this review.


The real test of a song’s enjoyment is often how long you can listen to it, and nothing else, before you want to jab a pen into your eye socket. It’s not necessarily a good test, or even a real test that I’d advise anybody who isn’t reviewing a track to do, but it’s definitely an effective test.

Shackled Up, the latest single from soul-voiced Alex Vargas, has currently passed the test. We’re on play 107, which means I’ve had this on repeat for more than a collective six hours. That’s crazy.

Crazier still is that I don’t find it any less enjoyable than I did upon first listen. I still find the emotionally wordless hook mesmerising, I’m still swept up by the beat, and I’m still captivated by the overall emotional sincerity and vulnerability of the track. It’s the most emotionally charged track to receive a robotic musical automation in a long time.

It sounds at odds with itself conceptually, but Shackled Up carries its emotionally weight well. It’s not overbearing, it’s not over the top, it’s – if anything – understated despite the honesty of the vocal itself. And all of this is submerged in a pool of pop potency that makes it so enjoyably repeatable.

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