Rascal Flatts, "Nothing Like This"

3.5

Anyone who wondered what affect a label change might have on Rascal Flatts' particular blend of country and pop: Rest assured, the impact was practically nil. The genre-straddling virtues that have delivered five No. 1 albums and two dozen top 10 singles on the country charts are still intact throughout the group's new set, "Nothing Like This." The trio's harmonies remain as crisp as a fresh pair of Wranglers. There's a ringing pluck in the elopement proposition on "Why Wait" and the live-it-up anthem "Play," while "They Try" strikes a soulful chord. And "Summer Young" reincarnates vintage '80s MTV pop. The song "Sunday Afternoon" offers a reminder to recent crossover faves like Lady Antebellum that Flatts was there first, and "Red Camaro" is practically revving its engines for a ride up the singles charts next summer. Elsewhere, British pop diva Natasha Bedingfield provides counterpoint in the breakup-celebrating "Easy." Polished, deceptively effortless and relentlessly tuneful, "Nothing Like This" is everything we've come to expect from Rascal Flatts.