Dios: Dios

Star Time

Brian Wilson is supposed to finally release the long-lost Smile sessions this year--and if you believe that, well, there's a bridge somewhere you can pre-order and a band called Dios that you can listen to while you're checking the mailbox. Not quite the "teenage symphony to God" that Wilson envisioned in Smile, the debut full-length from this Hawthorne, Calif., group is instead a sweet, measured, resonant love song for the suburbs--a long-overdue West Coast counterpoint to the old world Jonathan Richman loved so much. The found playground sounds on "Starting Five" set the scene, but the opening guitar splash steals your heart.

This is Emmitt Rhodes' honey melodies under the Wilson brothers' boy-wonder falsettos, beaming out from scruffy, lazy-lidded pop-scholar boys who sleep late and stay out till sunrise. (You'll notice that pretty much every Dios song syncs up to a sunrise, if you get the chance to try it.) "50 Cents" slyly lifts a little harmony from Pet Sounds' "You Still Believe In Me" and strings it like tinsel across an acoustic guitar and a dozen lines about twenty-something vanitas before swan-diving into a lush psychedelic crescendo. "All Said And Done" taps Rhodes' "With My Face On The Floor" and turns it into a loopy, wistful, last-record-playing-at-the-party goodbye ("I'm the kid who wants it all/But I'll be someone else's prize/I can see you think so," says singer Joel Morales on the way out the door.) But it's the album's almost-closer, "Meeting People," that demands a warm blanket and a quiet place to lay down and cry. The song opens with a somber, heartbeat-steady piano progression somewhere between "Let It Be" and a never-released Os Mutantes track, then walks right into California's saddest-but-still-sunroof-friendly guitar solo, a Beatles-by-the-beach vocal bridge, and a tape-looped coda that sets up a last chorus like it's setting up a stiff drink. "There's nothing left to say," says Morales as the piano drops away underneath him, and you know what? After a song like that, there isn't.

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