Rewind by Rascal Flatts

Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus have pulled off the enviable trick of updating their sound and style without losing the Rascal Flatts elements we’ve come to identify over the years: airtight harmonies, perceptive song choices and powerhouse vocals.

In certain ways, the trio sounds more youthful than on previous efforts while the production has taken on a vibrancy and technological push that should make this sit well with longtime fans and relative newcomers alike.

The title cut looms as one of their finest and fastest-rising singles ever, but there are other gems to be mined here.

“Memphis” stands as the type of song that the Flatts guys excel at, a haunting romantic story that begins with a soft piano intro segueing right into Gary’s plaintive, clear-as-a-bell vocal. With few flourishes, it’s a good example of the often-held notion that simplicity can be quite effective.

“Honeysuckle Lazy” is yet another ode to summer love, but before you cringe, this take on the theme carries it off with originality and cliché avoidance.

The same cannot be said, though, for the kickoff tune, “Payback,” which rocks hard enough but rounds up the usual gang of references like tight jeans and throwing down and even adding Instagram to the mix, plainly showing that timelessness is not the objective.

“The Mechanic,” in which a guy’s love is narrowed down to the line, You fix me, limps in its attempt to come up with some new analogy, one that few women are likely to swoon over.

Overall, though, Rewind is a great-sounding album that brings Flatts back to country’s forefront.

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