“The cover of 1976’s Leftoverture pictures a bearded Da Vinci character composing reams of music score with a quill. Appropriate imagery for a band who combined the compositionally complex approach of British bands such as Genesis and Yes with solid Southern-rock jamming. Kansas wasn’t new in ’76 – the group had escaped Topeka, Kansas, to record three prior albums” (Rotondi). “For any art rock band, the fourth album means it's time for a self-styled masterpiece – if you need proof, look at [Genesis’] Selling England by the Pound or [Yes’] Fragile. So, with Kansas, the most determinedly arty of all American art rock bands, they composed and recorded Leftoverture” (Erlewine).
The album is “an impenetrable conundrum of significance that’s capped off by nothing less than a...suite, appropriately titled Magnum Opus” (Erlewine). Through such “ornate epics” (Rotondi) as that as well as “straight-ahead rockers (What’s on Your Mind?)” (Rotondi), “guitarist Kerry Livgren and keyboardist Steve Walsh dramatically pair vocal harmonies over classical- and jazz-inspired structures” (Rotondi).
“Of course, there’s no telling whether [the] closing opus relates to the opener, Carry On Wayward Son, the greatest single Kansas ever cut – a song that manages to be pompous, powerful, ridiculous, and catchy all at once” (Erlewine). The song, through which the band “joined the arena circuit” (Rotondi), was “an instant hit with its explosive vocal arrangement and indelible guitar riff” (Rotondi).
“That they never manage to rival it anywhere on this record is as much a testament to their crippling ambition as their lack of skills. And it’s unfair to say Kansas are unskilled, since they are certainly instrumentally proficient and they can craft songs or, rather, compositions that appear rather ambitious. Except these compositions aren’t particularly complex, rhythmically or harmonically, and are in their own way as ambling as boogie rock, which still feels to be their foundation. It’s not really fair to attack Kansas for a concept album with an impenetrable concept – it’s possible to listen to Lamb Lies Down on Broadway hundreds of times and not know what the hell Rael is up to – but there’s neither hooks nor true grandiosity here to make it interesting. That said, this still may be Kansas’ most consistent set, outside of Point of Know Return. Take that for what you will” (Erlewine).