Canasta's orchestral sound is an innovative departure from pop music's standard instrumentation and song construction.
The Chicago sextet open their third full-length album with "Becoming You," a complex composition that employs a swirl of piano, synth, strings, bass, drums and guitar. The song begins as a delicate ballad and concludes in a cascade of up-tempo rock.
But Canasta's success converting these tracks into compelling music is uneven. They're ambitious, yes, and unwieldy, too.
"Shortcuts" falters on jarring tempo changes and awkward instrumental juxtapositions. The delicate piano passages are neutralized when they're confronted with agitated strings and percussion. The opposing sonic forces leave the listener with no clear emotional hook.
"I Don't Know Where I Was Going With This" is the album's most successful song because it's more than the sum of its parts. The seamless integration of keys, strings, rhythm and voice makes for a dreamy journey that suggests the band's potential.
Canasta's instrumental virtuosity is impressive. Now these musicians just need to gel.