Upon its release, Burst Apart received highly positive reviews from most critics. It was featured on many best of the year lists of music magazines and was voted album of the year by Drowned in Sound. It currently holds a score of 81 from review aggregate website Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim." Most critics have noted the contrast between Burst Apart and its predecessor Hospice, a highly conceptual album about a hospice worker who falls in love with a dying patient.Pitchfork Media gave the album an 8.2 rating and endorsed it with its "Best New Music" label; reviewer Ian Cohen remarked that although Burst Apart could not achieve the cult-like following of Hospice, it is "still tethered to a magnanimity and expressive clarity that makes it almost every bit as devastating." Jeremy Aaron of AbsolutePunk said that while the record "marks a move away from the stifling bleakness" of Hospice, it is still "an incredible sounding album," composed with "breathtaking elegance." Marc Hawthorne of The AV Club likewise commented on the difference, writing that Hospice "bummed everyone out--in the best possible way," but that The Antlers were able to create a followup that "easily reaches grand, dramatic heights even while remaining relatively subdued."