"This concept album about the passage of time – and the triumphs, mistakes, regrets, and memories associated with it – is Parsons' best work of the 1990s. It blends Parsons' traditional prog-rock and pop-rock leanings with a bit of techno” (DeGagne). The “sonically flawless” (McCulley) work "actually features very little musical input from Parsons himself” (DeGagne), who as producer and engineer, “twiddles the knobs and slides the levers, just like the Great Oz. Fans will find that Parsons…has successfully stayed his familiar course” (McCulley). ”If the result is something akin to Pink Floyd lite meets Kenny G in the New Age aisle at your local Natural Wonders outlet, thus has it ever been. While it lyrically renders H.G. Wells's original novel all touchy-feely and virtually unrecognizable, musically it's a reaffirmation that Parsons – not Toto, Journey, or a score of lesser pretenders to the mantle – is the real godfather of corporate rock” (McCulley).
"Parsons's familiar methodology once again shrewdly employs an almost-star cast of musical vets to do the heavy lifting” (McCulley). "The real stars are guitarist/saxophonist/keyboardist/bassist Ian Bairnson and drummer/keyboardist Stuart Elliott, both longtime Alan Parsons Project cohorts who individually wrote most of this album's songs” (DeGagne). ”Bassist John Giblin and vocalist Neil Lockwood return for their second go-round. In a pleasant surprise, former Project vocalists Colin Blunstone and Chris Rainbow return after many years' absence. The vocalist corps is rounded out by Parsons semi-regular Graham Dye, and three new guest vocalists, all of whom are an interesting variance from Parsons' normal sound” (Egbert).
"The Time Machine (Part 1) is a wonderful instrumental complete with dreamy acoustic guitar lines and a steady drum-machine rhythm” (DeGagne). This and The Time Machine (Part 2), are “brilliant piece[s] of work, the Jarre-like synthesizer and drums sandwiching the album neatly” (Egbert).
First up in the guest vocal department is "Spandau Ballet vocalist Tony Hadley [who] tastefully restrains his past histrionics for Out of the Blue” (DeGagne). "Hadley slides into the Parsons sound as easy as if he'd been bred for it” (Egbert).
Then comes the song that has become standard on every Parsons’ album since 1985’s Vulture Culture - the shoulda-been hit that wasn’t. This time around, it is a lyrically simplistic, but catchy Call Up. Conceptually, this song is on par with, say, Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ – the song feels like it was written in a matter of minutes, but its incredibly basic idea is clever nonetheless. As in Joel’s ‘Fire,’ we get a walk through history in a matter of minutes, but on “Call Up” the focus is on musical and motion picture legends “who came and changed this world/we would welcome back today/they would really light the way.”
Longtime Parsons’ contributor Colin "Blunstone is featured on the hypnotic Ignorance Is Bliss, which also contains tasteful piano and orchestral flourishes” (DeGagne).
"Rubber Universe may be the catchiest vocal-free piece on a Parsons CD since ‘Hawkeye’ on 1985's Vulture Culture. Both of these show the excellent writing ability of Bairnson and Elliot, performers who are heavily underappreciated both as composers and as guitarist and drummer. Ian Bairnson, for example, got bored a few years ago, so he learned how to play saxophone -- well enough he provides all the sax lines on this CD. This is what the guy does when he's bored” (Egbert).
As the second guest singer, Maire Brennan shows up on The Call of the Wild, a song that sounds more like her group Clannad than it does anything Alan Parsons has ever done. Her "vocal work…is delicate, breathy, and the full undertones of her ethereal voice are brought out by Parsons' production” (Egbert). The song “has a warm, Celtic feel thanks to [her] vocals…and a sprinkling of Northumbrian pipes” (DeGagne). It is the highlight of the album.
"No Future in the Past and Press Rewind are the album's most distinctive pop-rock numbers” (DeGagne). ”Both are unusual for Parsons, the first hard rock, the second an almost guitar-band sound” (Egbert).
Last on the list of guest vocalists is "English singer-songwriter Beverly Craven” (Egbert) who "provides the vocals on the lush, bittersweet ballad The Very Last Time” (DeGagne). The song "is minimally produced and arranged, with brilliant piano by new keyboardist Robyn Smith. Craven's voice is not at all what you expect on a Parsons CD; it's bluesy, expressive, and the song itself is acoustic. It's a long way from ‘Sirius/Eye in the Sky’, but it works” (Egbert).
"Far Ago and Long Away is a densely arranged instrumental with an overtly techno flavor” (DeGagne).
“Parsons has deviated from his standard sound, taken some chances, and come out a winner” (Egbert). “It works…better than anything he's done since the 1987 breakup of the Project” (Egbert). "The Time Machine will definitely please diehard Parsons fans” (DeGagne).