Since his 2017 breakout hit ‘Lo Que Siento’, bedroom pop sensation Cuco – mildly introverted, fully romantic – has proven that both Spanglish and love songs have their own respective charms. The 21-year-old Omar Banos has released a selection of sweetly intimate compilations including Songs4u and Wannabewithu. And in typical bedroom pop fashion over the past half-decade, his music has captured the hearts of many with its gentleness and laid-back attitude.
After a two-year bidding war among four labels, as well as having recovered from a horrendous car accident, the California artist finally released his debut full-length album Para Mi through Interscope Records. Compared to his previous work that is fairly stripped-down and unembellished, Para Mi winningly wields a much fuller sound.
On Para Mi, Cuco modishly infuses experimental hip hop with a considerable amount of trippy effects. The two most dazzling tracks ‘Ego Death in Thailand’ and ‘Keeping Tabs’ delightfully emanate and envelope you with a sense of euphoria through and through. Meanwhile, its instrumental interludes ‘Perihelion’, ‘Brokey The Pear’ and ‘Room Tone’ remain strikingly psychedelic and therapeutic, allowing Para Mi to really blossom into a compelling synth-drenched album.
Cuco’s songwriting, despite simple and repetitive, iterates the yearning of the young minds accurately. On his collaboration with Jean Carter ‘Bossa No Sé’, he utters, “Don’t play with me. You broke my heart, but I’m also so obsessed with you. I don’t know if I love you. I don’t know if I hate you”; while on ‘Hydrocodone’, he sighs deeply and sings, “I’m sitting in my room. I’m all alone now, missing you”. On the one hand, you simply can’t be bothered by his dwelling on emotional turmoil; on the other, you could almost forgive and take a liking to his straightforwardness.
Since the very beginning, part of Cuco’s charm is his uncensored cheesiness. It’s a meme-loving young lad who has got his heartbroken, and whose swagger paradoxically stems from a sense of self-doubt and heartfelt tenderness that is threaded through his music. And having shown a significant maturation in songcraft, Para Mi really expands Cuco’s appeal. Whether it’s the pleasant psychedelic emergence (which might or might not have been slightly hinted by ‘Lonelylife’ on 2016’s Wannabewithu), or his lo-fi singing voice, or even his bare songwriting style, Cuco has got something substantial in store for bedroom pop fanatics out there.