Vulture Culture confronts the notion that we live “in a parasitic society, where it's every man for himself. Those who can't fend for themselves simply won't survive in a world where the kindness of the human spirit is rapidly deteriorating” (DeGagne). This isn’t the most original theme ever attempted, and is rendered even more unoriginal by the fact that every Alan Parsons Project album seems to address the nature of man in the face of conflict, be it technology (I Robot), gambling (Turn of a Friendly Card, or the watchful eye of the government (Eye in the Sky).
With the exception of the Edgar Allan Poe-themed debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination, every Project album fudged a little on the overall concept, sometimes barely suggesting the theme. “On this album, though, the songs are weaker and are less effective in bringing out the album's complex idea…Vulture Culture lacks in cohesiveness and strength both lyrically and, to a lesser extent, musically” (DeGagne). “Vulture Culture is, fundamentally, a flawed work with only a few good bits” (Egbert).
“Production and engineering is, as always, crisp, clear, and flawless. Sad fact is, though, that that flawless production reveals the flaws in the compositions themselves. Songs like Separate Lives and Sooner Or Later end up sounding like the unholy mating of Parsons' immaculate synths with bubblegum pop” (Egbert). Somebody Out There is even weaker. “The modest chart successes of Eye in the Sky and Ammonia Avenue resulted in a more pop-oriented sound -- a sound that just doesn't work. Andrew Powell's orchestral sound is completely absent on Vulture Culture, and the traditional Project sound goes right out the window with it” (Egbert).
Still, there are a few good moments. “The most appealing song, Days Are Numbers (The Traveller) with vocalist Chris Rainbow at the helm, combines simplicity with a timeless chorus” (DeGagne). It is “a brilliant, textured, and complex ballad in the middle of a field of mostly banal lyrics and uninspired arrangements” (Egbert).
Lead-off song and single Let's Talk About Me, like many Project songs before it, was inexplicably shortchanged by radio. This should have been a top 40 pop hit and top 10 album rock hit. Among the song’s highlights are the layered snippets of dialogue and “the pounding percussion of Stuart Elliot” (Egbert).
The title cut is right in the middle of th pack. It is neither a complete throwaway, nor is it a standout like the two aforementioned songs. What hurts the song most is the fact that it is the title cut, thus weighting down the song with expectations that it will bring a clarity to the overall album theme. Instead, it would be more appropriate as one of those songs that after an album is over, you say, “I kinda liked that one song.”
“The instrumental Hawkeye adds life and contrast to the album at just the right time” (DeGagne). It is still “somewhat average [but] has a great saxophone part” (Egbert).
The Same Old Sun is a beautiful , “Broadway-style ballad, similar in feel and in quality to "Shadow of a Lonely Man" from Pyramid” (Egbert). It makes for an excellent album closer and is one of the Project’s more overlooked songs.
When all is said and done, the few highlights of the album cannot overcome the suffocating amount of filler. “Without the usual balance of absorbing lyrics and well-maintained music, Vulture Culture remains one of this band's less prolific albums” (DeGagne). “Vulture Culture can only be recommended to the completist” (Egbert).