Music

Indie Pop Artist Cuco Pours His Heart Out in Debut Album “Para Mi”

Mary Grace Ritter | The PhoenixCuco performed night one of two on Monday June 24 at Metro.

Dream pop singer-songwriter Cuco, whose given name is Omar Banos, brings his modern take on love and loss in “Para Mi,” which means “For Me.” His debut effort, released July 26, gives the listener an inside look into the artist’s head through the ups and downs of a relationship.

The comedic opener “Intro,” featuring Foos Gone Wild, proves the 21-year-old hasn’t lost his sense of humor despite the multitude of heartfelt lyrics that are to come. Appropriately asking, “But the real question remains, where is this foo going?,” the song leads the listener into the rest of the album to find out.

Cuco may be new to the scene — this is his debut album after all — but the California-native has already proven his status as a rising star. The Latino artist is winning over hearts and amassing over three million monthly Spotify listeners with his dreamy tunes.

The ever-growing fan base proved its loyalty with two sold-out shows at the Metro in June. The crowd screamed out lyrics and danced with Cuco as he performed what would be his most energetic song from the album, “Bossa No Sé.”

“Bossa No Sé” stands out early on in an album of moody, slow tracks. Its catchy melody and beat make it the most likely to find its way to the aux at a party. The conflicted lyrics “Don’t play with me / You broke my heart / But I’m also so obsessed with you” ring out over a lighthearted tune. The juxtaposition emphasizes the internal struggle of trying to brush off the feelings of a past relationship, but, as the lyrics show, it’s not that easy.

Cuco goes on to sing about the conflicts of this past relationship and where they left him in the aftermath. For an album titled “Para Mi,” meaning “For Me,” he talks a lot about someone else. That doesn’t diminish the deeply personal internal monologue and processing emotions taking place. 

Each song showcases a different side to his feelings about the relationship illustrating the complexity of those emotions and appealing to listeners no matter which emotions they’re processing.

A series of three interludes throughout the album gives the listener a mental break from those shifting feelings. “Perihelion – Interlude” starts with a mash of synth coming off the upbeat “Bossa No Se,” but the synths become more slow and melodic leading into “Feelings.”

Slow, dramatic synths find themselves in nearly every track in “Para Mi,” becoming repetitive at times. The choice appears intentional in “Lovetripper.” The drawn-out, molasses-like notes drag along evoking the patience Cuco has as he sings “I’m here my love, just follow all the signs / And I’ll be waiting for you here.”

The all too relatable lyric “I’m sitting in my room / I’m all alone now,” which is probably how many first listened to the album, starts off the album’s lead single “Hydrocodone.” The lovesick song manages to combine the catchiness of “Bossa No Sé” with the lethargy of “Lovetripper.”

“Far Away From Home” mixes up the world of droning synths with a dramatic guitar solo. The deliberate notes — whether quick or lengthy — pull on the emotion of the track. Building the guitar up with the piano and drums provides the sense of longing Cuco discusses lyrically.

The track closes with a stripped back piano riff. It’s not played perfectly and that’s exactly the beauty of it. A misstep on the keys aids the authentic and unpolished feel of Cuco’s music.

The album closes with the simplicity of Cuco, a guitar and drums in “Do Better.” He just wants to be better for the person he cares about — a surprisingly happy end to an album full of “you broke my heart,” “I feel blue” and “missing you.” 

“Para Mi” is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

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