Most Porter Robinson fans can’t describe the anticipation of waiting for a new project that they have felt since Robinson dropped his debut album, “Worlds” (2014). When he announced “Nurture” (2021) last year, it created a indescribable feeling of excitement for all of his fans.
“I put my entire heart into this,” Robinson said in the tweet that announced the release of his sophomore album.
He wasn’t exaggerating — the emotions that Robinson pours into this album lyrically are just as impactful as the musical genius that each song displays.
Since Robinson released “Worlds” seven years ago, many fans have connected with his music. Countless comments on his videos, Reddit posts and the sea of Porter Robinson tribute artwork have shown how Robinson has changed lives for the better. So, the pressure to provide more work at the same level as “Worlds” was high.
“A good deal of this album is how there was a point in those seven years where I felt really convinced that I wouldn’t be able to make music ever again, and that was always my greatest fear,” Robinson explained in an interview with NME’s Ben Jolley. “I was so obsessed, especially the first two years, I wanted to prove I could still do it, that I was too anxious to make anything anxious at all. A lot of the album is about how I clawed my way out of that.”
The album is the product of seven years of hard work, overcoming creative block and many life obstacles, such as family illness and struggles with mental health. It kicks off with “Lifelike,” a song led by a stunning piano melody with some soft synths and drum samples. A violin, a harp, some claps and vocals join this introduction song to lay down the atmosphere for this record.
“As an artist, my vantage point into the beauty of the real world is so often, like, sitting in a recording studio, staring out my window, and feeling like I’m in a forest,” Robinson describes in an interview with Apple Music. “That’s what informed the creative direction of this album. To me, establishing a specific worldview was essential.”
Robinson also wants his listeners to realize that the beauty of the world is a good enough reason to stay motivated and focus on your life goals, as he sings about in “Look At The Sky.” The chorus includes the lines: “Look at the sky, I’m still here/ I’ll be alive next year/ I can make something good, oh/ Something good” — a message to himself to continue making the art that has helped him and his fans get through tough moments in life. Telling himself and the world that there’s always hope is a message that Robinson has preached throughout his career, and it has become representative of the impact he has had on electronic music fans.
“Get Your Wish,” which was the lead single for “Nurture,” is a progressive EDM showstopper that starting with lighter synths and some piano chords, Robinson’s pitched-up vocals deliver an absolutely heart-melting melody. Robinson claims the song was influenced by the release of Bon Iver’s “22, A Million” (2016) and a trip to Japan that he and his girlfriend took that same year. Robinson tweeted about this song specifically to show how much its release meant to him. Another highlight on the record is “Musician,” a vocal-chop-driven song that Robinson claims is his favorite on the record. The song is structurally akin to pop, but it has musical substance that most pop musicians can’t match.
“Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do” and “Dullscythe” are mostly instrumental tracks that are yet another example of Robinson’s ability to create a potent and bright atmosphere for the listener. They are great tunes that lead up to extremely heavy and emotional songs, like “Mother” and “Sweet Time,” that are guaranteed to tear up listeners.
There’s not a single doubt that this project was created with lots of genuine care and love. “Mirror” makes this clear, with lyrics such as, “And it’s not the voice of all the others/ You’ve only said it to yourself/ I know what you want from me, from me / I know what you’re thinking.” The song holds another message that can apply to both Robinson and his fans: There’s no need to beat yourself up, especially when you’re the only one beating yourself up.
Occasionally, when albums show this many consistently enjoyable songs, there is fear of an underwhelming conclusion. Thankfully, “Nurture” sticks its landing in its later songs. The ballad, “Blossom,” is one of the most heart-warming songs on the entire record, and “Unfold” with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs contains synths of unbelievable atmospheric magnitude that we’ve seen in Robinson’s other songs, like “Language” (2012) and “Divinity” (2014).
Robinson leaves us with no doubts that his musical impact is unlike most others. He was a powerhouse of a producer in 2014, and still is today.