Cuco Credit: Courtesy of Orienteer

It was only a few years ago that 21-year-old Los Angeles singer-songwriter/producer Omar Banos, aka Cuco, began messing around with music software after school. He quickly hit on an original and unexpectedly successful style of bedroom dream pop, with lyrics that mix Spanish and English and meander nonchalantly between passionate Latin balladry and sly, hip humor. His signature song, 2017’s “Lo Que Siento,” has a cheesy synth groove and casually corny lyrics (“I hope you know I miss you / From my head I can’t dismiss you”) and ends with a gorgeous mariachi horn coda. Over the summer following the track’s release, Cuco racked up 350,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. His latest single, “Hydrocodone,” touches on the Beatles in its psychedelic, distorted tunefulness and on the Smiths in its melodramatic insularity: “The tainted paint that’s on the wall,” Cuco laments, “crumbles and corrodes, rumbling softly as it hits the floor.” The single is part of the run-up to Cuco’s Interscope debut (title still TBA), for which he reportedly received a seven-figure advance. The label is obviously betting he has an even bigger future ahead of him, and I certainly hope so too; it would be great if the soundtrack of summer 2019 included this nerdy Mexican-American indie oddball who sings about love.   v