Dios (malos) owe a great deal of their sound to growing up in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Though much is made of their “sunny California pop,” it’s the diversity of their hometown that’s most reflected in their sound. As the band points out, they grew up a stone’s throw away from the childhood home of the Beach Boys as well where Black Flag started. Sure, there’s sunny pop in dios (malos) but there’s also melancholic ballads and fun-loving rock songs.
It’s easy to hear the strong connection to the Beach Boys, but dios (malos) has more in common with contemporaries like Beck, Grandaddy and the Super Furry Animals. Like those artists, dios (malos) take pop music and stretch its boundaries. They may be less subversive, but they manage to combine the typical instruments of a band (keys, guitars, drums) in such varied ways that often they sound like a different band from song to song.
On their second self-titled record (the first was simply called dios; “malos” was added after Ronnie James Dio sued the band), dios (malos) leap from lo-fi self-production to a hi-fi pro sound thanks to Phil Ek (The Shins, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill). Ek’s production gives the record a large, full sound that adds density to their laid-back, often spacey tunes. Imagine a blessed-out Ben Folds or a less obtuse Shins, lace it with some California sunshine, and you’ll get a good idea of why dios (malos) are getting rave reviews from all corners.
[This piece appeared in All the Rage.]