Porter Robinson’s 2014 debut album, Worlds, was a revolutionary event in the EDM world. Robinson built (and subsequently destroyed) nostalgic, Vocaloid and JRPG-inspired soundscapes to escape from the monotony of club-friendly DJing.
2021’s LP, Nurture, on the other hand, avoids escapism altogether. Instead, it gives us an all-too-real insight into the creative deficits Robinson faced while suffering from depression after the release of Worlds. In fact, the album shares very little with its predecessors, besides a similar nostalgic sound. Even within this sound, Porter swaps Vocaloids for his own pitch-shifting vocals and trades the buildup-drop cycles for shimmery pop earworms. These changes result in something truly special: an optimistic, whimsical, and magnificent pandemic album that perfectly describes the process of finding peace with oneself.
In the anthemic opening single, “Look at the Sky,” Robinson sings optimistically over an infectious synth-hook accompanied by the mantra “I can make something good.” This hopeful track establishes the strong themes of lyrical mantras and self-realization that evolve across the tracklist.
Porter fights with this concept on tracks like the explosive and ethereal “Unfold” and drum-and-bass banger “Something Comforting.” Both tracks embrace and denounce the naysayers through the Kero Kero Bonito sampling in “Mirror,” begs for answers across the city-pop tinged “Get Your Wish,” and sings about love in theacoustic tear-jerker, “Blossom.” These ideas are bridged and glued together with incredible, brain-massaging ambient tracks like the glitchy piano chops of “dullscythe” and “Wind Tempos”, and even through the beautiful Ghibli-esque tableaus of the album intro, “Lifelike”.
All of these inquiries of varying levels of optimism lead to the closing track, “Trying to Feel Alive.” Robinson ends the album with a rather simple answer to the various big questions asked across the album.
Maybe I don’t really need to feel satisfied– lyrics from “Trying to Feel Alive” by Porter Robinson
Maybe it’s a gift that I spent all this time
Just trying to feel alive
In a society fueled by systems that put us down for not achieving our peak potential, Nurture tells us that it’s okay to live life, not to seek perfection, but simply for the beautiful feeling of being human.
Nurture is a hug from a friend when you need it most. Nurture is like the album cover: blissfully laying face-down in a bright field of flowers. Nurture is a perfect celebration of the journey to self-actualization: a 10/10 album through and through.
Listen to the wonderful musical rendition of a hug here: