“One of the most interesting aspects about the Alan Parsons Project is the band's ability to forge a main theme with each of its songs, while at the same time sounding extremely sharp and polished. Much of this formula is used in Ammonia Avenue, only this time the songs rise above Parsons’ overall message due to the sheer beauty of the lyrics partnered with the luster of the instruments. The album touches upon how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial. But aside from the philosophical concepts prevalent in the lyrics, it is the music on this album that comes to the forefront” (DeGagne).
This album was also ”pivotal…because [the Project] were looking down the barrel marked 'Following Up a Big Hit' -- to wit, 1982's #3 single ‘Eye in the Sky’ and the #7 album of the same name…Perhaps it was too much to bite off in one chunk, but they gave it a shot” (Egbert). ”Ammonia Avenue did spawn two Top Forty singles and a Top Fifteen album – but…it didn't do as well as Eye in the Sky and that the Project would never do so well on the charts again” (Egbert).
”As one can expect from Parsons' work, the production and engineering is flawless; so flawless, in fact, that this is one of the few Project CDs where the sound is -- perhaps purposefully -- just one step short of sterile. Musicianship is brilliant, with the severely underrated Ian Bairnson turning in several very tasty bits on guitar. This leaves the songs and the arrangements, traditionally the areas where Parsons and his band of studio musicians either rose or fell. In this case, it's both” (Egbert). "Parsons and…Eric Woolfson have crafted a set of songs, in their overseer role, that are texturally attractive and sonically impeccable…but it's merely a sonic soufflé, empty calories puffed full of hot air” (Puterbaugh).
“What works is where Parsons leaves in the…orchestra…in the middle of a lovely rock song, [the Project would] suddenly pop in a full string section and some brass. There are great sweeping chunks of Ammonia Avenue where there's nary an orchestra pit to be found, and that absence results in two huge clunkers; Let Me Go Home and the execrable One Good Reason” (Egbert).
On the flip side, though, ”the briskness of Eric Woolfson’s wording throughout Prime Time makes it one of the Project’s best singles” (DeGagne). It is one of three great singles from the album.
”The subtlety of the ballad comes to life on the elegant Since the Last Goodbye, which focuses on a failed attempt at a relationship” (DeGagne).
”The enchanting saxophone of Mel Collins on Don't Answer Me adds to its lonely atmosphere” (DeGagne); the track also bears some “Phil Spector homages” (Egbert).
"Dancing on a High Wire is a brooding, complex song that bears repeated listen” (Egbert). Still, one has to question lines like “’The silver-plated hero meets the golden-hearted whore.’ Later, she's ‘the ivory madonna.’ Huh?” (Puterbaugh).
”On You Don't Believe, the seriousness of the lyrics works well with the song's energetic pace” (DeGagne). This was a perfect album rock track first featured on the Project’s first greatest hits compilation, released in 1983. As a single, the song was a stunning failure, not even cracking the top 40, which was a shock considering the #3 peak of 1982’s “Eye in the Sky.”
After Pipeline, the token instrumental (there’s always at least one per Project album), the gorgeous title track kicks in. Still, there are lyrical “non sequiturs like this one…’Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness/Watching the sun arise?’" (Puterbaugh) that threaten to derail the album.
In the end, ”the sum of the parts is greater than the whole product, which can't be said for all of the Alan Parsons Project’s albums” (DeGagne). Sonically, we have great production as always and “vocalists Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek, and Colin Blunstone equally shine, placing their talents above and beyond the album's main idea” (DeGagne). At the same time, “paying more attention to the Project's orchestral and progressive roots might have made it a great album” (Egbert). As it is, though, misguided lyrics supporting perhaps the Project’s weakest concept to date unravel the album more than anything.