Monday, December 13, 2010

Album Review: Rascal Flatts - Nothing Like This

I can think of one word that just perfectly describes the new Rascal Flatts album.  To quote the great Simpsons:  "Meh."

It's not terrible, but it's not especially good or interesting either.  Nothing Like This is a perfectly safe, easily digestible, middle-of-the-road pop-country album.

The album kicks off with the current single and recent number one hit "Why Wait," which is easily the best song the album has to offer.  "Easy," a collaboration with pop star Natasha Bedingfield, is another pleasant track which sees a pair of ex-lovers attempting to conceal the feelings they still have for one another.  We find that Natasha Bedingfield and Gary LeVox harmonize surprisingly well.  After that, the album starts to plod in circles as a cluster of bland and nondistinctive love songs follow, causing me to quickly lose interest.

"Red Camaro" is arguably the most boring song on the album, sounding like a business-as-usual summer song with all the requisite references to bare feet and driving with the top down.  It brings nothing new to the table, instead using tacky "Oh-oh-oh" hooks as a crutch.  There's a good chance of it being shipped to radio next summer, as it sounds perfectly tailored to fit in with all the group's other summer hits.

To the boys' credit, they have toned down their sound in comparison to what was heard on their previous few albums.  There are very few overblown vocal theatrics on the shrill-voiced Gary LeVox's part, save for the occasional attempt at a falsetto.  Though there are a few overwrought guitar solos, the album's overall sound is cleaner and less cluttered than the overcooked power pop that Rascal Flatts once reveled in.  The problem is that the song selections all seem to run together.  While some of it is pretty good, "Why Wait" is the only one that could be considered great.

Though there are a handful of songs that are worth cherry-picking from this album, the rest one could easily do without.  It's not good.  It's not bad.  It's just a mediocre set that includes only one or two genuine standouts with the rest being dominated by throwaway album filler.  The die-hard Flatts fans might like it, but there is nothing here to convert the uninterested.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)