Your resident analyst right around the corner.
^^This is the quote I concur with from that interesting review you linked to, Jarred:
"...it (Now & Then) was, among other things, quirky, eclectic, eerie, joyful, eccentric, melancholy, silly, mysterious, and a TON of fun..."
For an imperfect, hurriedly constructed album they did manage to convey a variety of moods and tones that in lesser hands would have been much more jarring. I may have mentioned this in some form before, but because it’s a concept album with two halves, it mirrors that this album is the divide between classic Carpenters and their later career with a shift in sound and song selection. It’s as they are getting all those tones into this album before they know they won’t have the inspiration or energy to do it in the future.