It became immediately clear as I saw the album artwork for the first time at the beginning of the year that Porter Robinson, who I haven’t heard of before that point, his past work, and his then upcoming album, “Nurture”, was something that a lot of people were very passionate about. Without doing any research about this guy, I knew that this was going to be one of the biggest releases of the year, and while I try not to set the bar too high before listening to a new project I still was expecting a very different listening experience than what I typically hear throughout the year. Now that “Nurture” is here, I can finally say that I don’t get it!
I don’t get it.
I’m happy people are getting very positive experiences from this album - that is what makes music such a wonderful thing - but I can’t help but be disappointed by how indifferent I feel towards “Nurture”. It’s not even bad, Porter Robinson made a fine record, but I just feel nothing when listening to this. I don’t want to completely discredit Robinson’s music because he’s clearly a good producer. His production sounds huge, clean, and probably sounds just fit in a festival setting. Everything sounds bright and positive, and I really like the more lowkey moments and the tranquility they provide, but I feel like this album spends so much time telling me that this is supposed to be happy music without actually being music that makes me feel joy.
I don’t want it to come across like I’m invalidating Robinson’s mental health journey, I feel sincere empathy for the creative struggle he was facing since his last album and I’m glad he’s able to create again. However, whatever Robinson was feeling didn’t translate to “Nurture” in my opinion, and its attempts at making an emotional impact just feel really hollow, musically and, especially, lyrically. I’m not going to lie, a lot of this music sounds like it was specifically written to be included in a cheesy 80’s self help tape on VHS that your guidance counselor would have you watch. It doesn’t sound so much like a friend reaching out and being a shoulder for you during a dark time as it does a motivational Facebook post your aunt shared.
Again, I could never take away from people who are feeling genuine delight about this record, nor would I want to. For me though, Porter Robinson doesn’t sound much different from other generic electropop producers such as The Chainsmokers, and “Nurture” as a listening experience just feels like someone telling me, repeatedly, to “live, laugh, love” for an hour.