Nurture is album of human reckoning, mining personal darkness and coming out of the other side almost wholesome.
Despite a multi-year creative drought, work with various side projects, and a massive tour schedule culminating in a major festival run, Porter Robinson returns now with Nurture, his second solo studio album and a follow up to 2014’s Worlds. In sum, it’s an album that charts a series of heavy emotional catharses, from imposter syndrome to depression to the notion of finding worth in the self. These topics are all set to a sprawling soundscape that incorporates a disparate spate of sounds, including piano, electronic tinkerings, and Porter’s voice pitched to an almost feminine octave. The result is astounding.
The album’s first vocal-heavy track is “Look at the Sky,” a song that debuted as a part of Robinson’s virtual festival toward the beginning of the pandemic. The track is about emerging from a creative stall that he experienced amidst a depressive episode in 2016: “Shouldn’t it come to you naturally? / And everyone knows / You’re losing your gift and it’s plain to see.” This emotional growth is further demonstrated on following track “Get Your Wish,” which sees Robinson finding value in his music without the external validation of critical success: “When the glory tries to tempt you / It may seem like what you need / But if glory makes you happy / Why are you so broken up?” The album then reaches its peak on “Musician,” an introspective track of self-assurance amidst the struggles of depressive disorders and writer’s block: “How do you do music? Well, it’s easy / You just face your fears and you become your heroes / I don’t understand why you’re freaking out.” The main melody here is sampled from an unreleased collaboration with Kero Kero Bonito, featuring a glassy-sounding, piano-influenced pop beat, and its sonic waves wash over you with further layered sounds and soothing lyrics, a perfect balm for a panic-ridden world. Elsewhere, “Mother” proves another highlight, a song written from the perspective of Robinson’s parents, their encouragements blanketing him through his darkest times: “I’m on your side for the rest of your life / You’ll never be alone, don’t you worry, my child.”
The album wraps with the triumphant “Trying to Feel Alive,” a self-referential track celebrating the completion of the album itself: “You climbed a mountain, are you satisfied? / As you stand at the top / You already wanna do this / One more time.” It’s a sentiment that might seem braggadocious if not for its truth; Nurture is a phenomenal album of fresh, nuanced beats that, despite its lingering darkness, feels almost wholesome, exhibiting deep respect to the spectrum of human experience.
Published as part of Album Roundup — April 2021 | Part 3.