In an interview conducted by Arte Radio in 2007, Hurley used various phrases to described the album's sound, which included "a large flashbulb paparazzi sound," "short drum machine phrases," "brief phrases of machines working," "dubbed industrial hip-hop," "characteristic winds," "punch-presses pitched down," "train mechanisms and large steel factory samples," and "metal structures that were welded together."
Marc Masters of Pitchfork gave the album a positive review. He compared the album's sound to the musical styles of Demdike Stare and the Haxan Cloak and stated: "Even at its densest, The Air Is on Fire is pretty simple sonically, which gives it a universal tone. It’s not about cutting-edge techniques or never-heard-before concoctions. It’s about using sound to tell a wordless story and evoke undefined emotions. On those counts, it succeeds thoroughly."