Record #400: Kansas – Point of Know Return (1977)

This is a milestone—as of this post, I am undeniably halfway through my collection. I guess you could say I’m…

Past the point of no return?

Bad puns aside, I suppose the point Kansas is referring to is their transition from exploratory prog rock to more streamlined pop tunes…
Only two songs on this album stretch past five minutes (compared to half of the tunes on Leftovertures).
There’s no shortage of instrumental jam sections, but even those moments have a radio-friendly sheen on them. It may have done in an attempt to make The possible exception is the title track, with a flurry of orchestral riffs between lines in the chorus.

On the longer songs, “Closet Chronicles” and “Hopelessly Human,” the group gives themselves permission to get proggy. Through their long runtimes, the group changes tempo, mood, and style on a dime.  

The natural standout is the heartbreaking ballad “Dust in the Wind.” However, it doesn’t have the potential it could have on a truly great album. This sort of track would do great as a penultimate track on a concept album: a deep breath before the storm of the finale. Here, it’s just a pretty detour. 

All of this isn’t to say that prog bands should stay away from pop. GenesisThe Alan Parsons Project, and Yes all turned their progressive leanings into pop masterpieces with stunning success. Kansas falls a little short—even if this is, apparently, most people’s favorite Kansas album?

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