Sneer at pretty boys like OLD 97'S front man, Rhett Miller, if you must. All dimples aside, he's every inch the real thing. So's the band. The revved-up Dallas country-rockers went on a brief hiatus while Miller dabbled in solo pop stardom, but there's not an airbrushed photo to be found on DRAG IT UP (New West). There aren't a lot of surprises either, unless their insanely melodic cowpop still comes as a surprise to anyone. Back in indie-label land, the 97's skip the pricey hit-making gloss and just play, offering their most satisfying set in years. At least in spirit. The material is about like always: some disposable, some a little too nice, some ferocious, and some, well, when you can write a gem like "Won't Be Home," you don't really need to do it all that often.

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