Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
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  1. Jan 27, 2016
    A sudden turn to classic rock feels like one of the weirdest moves of Tortoise’s career--but it also feels so right.
  2. Jan 27, 2016
    In some ways, The Catastrophist feels like a microcosm of the band's body of work; even though they don't repeat themselves, it all comes together in some of their most immediate music to date.
  3. Jan 26, 2016
    Rest assured, although still more cerebral pleasure than triumphalist pop breakthrough, this uniquely accessible record is a subtle delight.
  4. Jan 26, 2016
    Tortoise may no longer sound like the future because the future happened, but as long as they keep on hitting the levels of perfection they reach on tracks like 'Shake Hands With Danger' and 'Gesceap' then complacency doesn't sound so bad.
  5. Jan 22, 2016
    Tortoise may have become a little less cutting-edge in their old age, but within an area of the musical landscape which owes much to their enduring influence, they remain perennially relevant.
  6. Jan 21, 2016
    The Catastrophist is another shining example of the band’s ability to forge multitudes of different sounds into something new--something singular, that can really only be described as, well, sounding like Tortoise.
  7. Jan 14, 2016
    Certainly their best record since 2001's Standards, here Tortoise sound revitalised--concise, playful and sharp. They may move slowly, but when they do, it is always with renewed purpose.
  8. Mojo
    Jan 11, 2016
    It's not that Tortoise have got their groove back--they've never lacked compelling rhythm--rather, they've rediscovered their alchemical ability to conjure the atmospherically and melodically sublime from premium grade popular and art music precedents. [Jan 2016, p.89]
  9. Uncut
    Jan 11, 2016
    For every textured, tasteful track that evokes Tortoise's mid-'90s peak as a prime exemplar of US indie's brainiest strain, two deviate wildly. [Feb 2016, p.83]
  10. Jan 22, 2016
    They're best when dabbling in the exotic, the offbeat, the slightly unsettling. Smooth surfaces are never quite what they seem in the best Tortoise songs.
  11. Jan 22, 2016
    About a quarter of the record is fairly neglible. But the rest shows an energy and purpose that’s refreshing to hear, especially for anyone who’s been following Tortoise from the start.
  12. Mar 2, 2016
    If you want stark, memorable melodies, you’re better off turning to McCombs’ combo Brokeback; for inarguably affecting rhythms, seek out Herndon and Parker’s turn with Ken Vandermark’s Powerhouse Sound; and for shiny sounds molded into pop songs, you’re better off with McEntire’s other band, Sea And Cake. But if you want that patented Tortoise blend of electronic tones, varied beats, and just-so textures treated as ends unto themselves, The Catastrophist delivers.
  13. Jan 26, 2016
    Tortoise's anticipation of our retro-electronic-cratedigging-post-everything moment means the palette is less surprising than it once was.... Yet the Tortoise mix of pelvic trance grooves and jazzy changes remains distinctive.
  14. 70
    Whilst as a whole The Catastrophist doesn’t surpass the high-watermarks of the band’s almost unimpeachable early-years pioneering, it does stand-up well as a solid and consistent collection to add to the post-millennial phase of the Tortoise canon, with just enough refreshed moves to keep the rust and cobwebs at bay.
  15. Jan 25, 2016
    Keeping a band going for 25 years is no easy task, and there’s not many in the world who can still keep pushing forwards, but without losing what it is about them that’s so unique. Tortoise manage that weirdness, that jazz infused strangeness, and that downright groove that they’ve always traded in, but re-mould it for 2016.
  16. Jan 20, 2016
    Tortoise is a band about the blurry middles, which is why “The Catastrophist,” at its best and most beautiful (in songs like “Hot Coffee,” “Tesseract” and its title track, switching among strains of cyborg pop and warm, heroic melodies) sounds like incidental music for films, or a record to play on a club sound system in between bands.
  17. Jan 20, 2016
    This is business as (un)usual for one of indie rock's greatest experimental institutions, to be sure.
  18. Jan 19, 2016
    Although there’s a lot to enjoy here, with the band on something like the crisp, playful form of TNT, the best moments seem out of place and the rest a bit meandering; while previous releases have always felt thematically strong, even while jumping stylistically from Ennio Morricone soundtrack-isms and cool jazz to downtempo grooves and minimal drum and bass, it’s hard to pin down exactly where this is aimed.
  19. Jan 11, 2016
    The Catastrophist is not the over-confident reinvention or the rote revision of outmoded past albums that one might expect after a band’s seven year recording hiatus; it’s simply the next Tortoise record, and a rather good one at that.
  20. Jan 27, 2016
    The twists and turns can be compelling, but they make The Catastrophist feel somewhat lopsided, with scattered ideas too disparate to congeal as a cohesive listen.
  21. Jan 19, 2016
    Some of their more conventional tracks may pale a little in comparison to their newer aesthetics, if only because their evolution has been so slow and protracted.
  22. Jan 19, 2016
    While this record won’t reel in many new listeners, it’s a worthy and worthwhile addition to the band’s discography, full of catchy grooves that continue to defy expectations.
  23. Jan 19, 2016
    Aside from the head-scratching detours ("Rock On," "Gesceap," "Yonder Blue," which might as well be a Yo La Tengo song), it's heartening to hear Tortoise in fine experimental form.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Dec 7, 2016
  2. Jan 25, 2016
    Very good album that has enough going on to keep you listening start to finish.
    Would probably have scored higher if it had been released by
    Very good album that has enough going on to keep you listening start to finish.
    Would probably have scored higher if it had been released by any other band.
    Tortoise has set the Standard(s) so high themselves.
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