Chúcaro

Cocofunka

Independent release, 2016

http://www.cocofunka.bandcamp.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/25/2016

If you thought contemporary music from Latin America with any kind of crossover appeal came only from gorgeous artists with flawless bodies, this Costa Rican act will come as somewhat of a surprise. This band’s latest – and strongest – release Chúcaro is sung 100% in Spanish. But not only does it have an undeniable crossover appeal, it fits right in with all the other bands in the indie music scene that sing in English. An indie band from Latin America; how’s that for a stereotype crusher!

This six-piece outfit has really poured their heart into this album. The tropical Latin and reggae vibes mixed with smooth present-day ‘80s-influenced nostalgic indie pop is executed not only to perfection by the band, but with great flair. Chúcaro has a very distinct Latin flavor, with its deep-rooted musical influences and the fact that all the songs are sung in Spanish by lead vocalist Javier Arce. But this is not some kind of a “world music” album. The band is very much in tune with current indie pop music, and the way they use this sensibility to turn their songs from exotic Latin jams to contemporary indie music is pretty sophisticated and on the mark. Much like some of the successful Latino artists, the band has successfully figured out how to make great crossover music while still staunchly holding on to their musical roots.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The way Cocofunka incorporates Western influences in their music is very classy. The music is very lush and melodic, and the production is flawless. At the same time, the band is also rather minimalistic when it comes to instrumentation. The songs are never overly done, always keeping the prettiness of the tunes, the pureness of Arce’s voice, and the infectious rhythms as the main focus. However, this is not to say that there isn’t some great musicianship on this record. Most notable are the crisp guitars. Most notably on tracks like “Coleccionista,” “Oso Perezoso,” “Saboteo,” and “Melancolia,” the guitars add a lot of beauty without being too much in the foreground; the guitarwork here is much like Johnny Marr’s with The Smiths, which was very effective even at times when it was not the center of attention.

If you compare Chúcaro to Cocofunka’s previous releases – which are mainly Latin-tinged funk rock music – it is a no-brainer that the band has really pushed the creative envelope on this one, especially when it comes to the colorfully diverse feel of the album. And while one might not understand the lyrics, one can certainly relate to the emotions on this album, which are very real.

Chúcaro is not one of those monotonous indie albums that, while equally beautiful and elegant, are nevertheless stuck in a melancholic rut that feels cold. This is a warm-blooded, emotion-filled album that feels alive and comforting. It is not only great but also refreshing to see a band like Cocofunka popping out of a place that one would least expect to deliver such a fabulous album.

Rating: A-

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