Mountains and chasms of disarming electropop.
It’s a refreshing change of pace for an artist to genuinely surprise you with their output. Take Alex Vargas, for example. His lead single Shackled Up gave the impression of an artist that was soul-oriented with some solid pop credentials. But with the release of his Giving Up The Ghost EP, it’s become obvious that we misjudged Vargas.
The EP still manages to portray both of these sounds, but with much more of a coherent and consistent electropop feel. At times this EP feels like Years & Years in a lower register, while at others it feels undeniably soulful with melodic collapses and vocal fragility. It’s a strange release that sometimes may feel at odds with itself, but ultimately the payoff is glorious.
Vargas kicks things off on a strong note with title track Give Up The Ghost, which is a rousing electropop anthem with a solid vocal hook just waiting mass radio play. But as it slides into second track Solid Ground, we witness the first stylistic shift which – although executed well – may throw off the more devout followers of pop.
With that said, variety is a good skill for a new artist to exhibit and Vargas showcases it well. The EP feels like a beautiful idea born of immaculate conception, but it falls down in the execution and sequencing of tracks.
The rise-fall approach works, to an extent, but you can’t help feel that this release would benefit hugely from a reshuffling. Third track Wear Your Demons Out would make for a killer closing track, but that honour is reserved for Ashes. It’s easy enough to see what Vargas was trying to do here – an extended outro that gradually descends into the deep pits of nothingness to close. It’s an artistic approach. But in ending on a creative high rather than an energetic one, the overall EP loses some of the repeatability that Shackled Up possesses.
Still, that shouldn’t detract too much from the release itself. It’s a top notch effort, with soulful vocals that cry and ooze with pure emotion in the midst of fantastic instrumentation. It’s a journey from high energy mountains to emotionally deep chasms with all the makings of a classic – just not necessarily in the right order for me.