Credit: Richard Brooks

California singer-songwriter Cuco (aka Omar Banos) makes distinctively woozy bedroom pop that mixes vocals in Spanish and English with laid-back beats, fuzzy guitar reverb, synth wash, 808s, and the occasional distant bossa nova horn. His summer-romance-and-weed-friendly formula has made him a force on streaming platforms, and rather than mess with success, he keeps the vibe going strong on his new sophomore album, Fantasy Gateway (Interscope). Cynics might find Cuco’s relatively simplistic lyrical style off-putting—on “Aura” he sings, “Do you want to come home with me / Do you want to get lost with me tonight?”—but this music isn’t made for cynics anyway, so it’s all good. 

“Sweet Dissociation” is a perfect distillation of Cuco’s style. Its hook, just shy of irritatingly catchy, is wrapped in layers of psychedelic shimmer so that the track throbs in your brain like a fuzzy DayGlo psychic caterpillar. “Sitting in the Corner” adds a few twists, mainly via a canny choice of vocal collaborators, and the groove fits just as easily under Adriel Favela’s norteño rhythms as it does beneath Kacey Musgraves’s country-tinged indie-rock singing. Cuco doesn’t so much combine Mexican and American influences as refuse to distinguish between them, and in his hands they become a single cascading rainbow of sound. He’ll come to Chicago next month to headline the first day of Ruido Fest on Friday, August 19.

YouTube video

  Cuco’s Fantasy Gateway is available after 7/22 on the artist’s website.