Nature vs. Nurture is no longer a debate. The euphoric powerhouse adventure of “Nurture” may seem like an exploration in the nature of our world, but it’s truly nurtured by our own mannerisms. “Nurture” simultaneously exhibits a disconnect from the digital world but also has its roots in it, but arguably, “Nurture” ends up the most humane, tactile and emotionally potent project in this sphere of music.
“Nurture”, producer Porter Robinson’s long-awaited 2nd studio album has finally been released after years of hype buildup. 2014’s “Worlds” had many flaws and wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking experience with much to say but nevertheless was a great album. But coming into this with the singles, Porter has since then proven himself to be much more than what the masses initially thought of him, curating some of my favorite singles of the year. “Nurture” was definitely towards the top of my most anticipated albums of this year, so did it live up to the high expectations? Or did it fall flat on its face and provided only good singles?
Not only did “Nurture” live up to the high expectations, it exceeded them greatly. Even without everything I said before, this album is absolutely astonishing. Without the personal memories, the experiences, and everything that’s tied with it, this album is still incredibly solid with amazing moments. Bare lyricism, shades of vocal performances but nothing groundbreaking either, the star really is the production on this record. “Nurture” uses pitch-shifted vocals in a way to tell this grand story ranging from appreciating little things in life, outlooks of hope, etc etc, won’t say it all now but you get the point. It’s small details explains big stories, which is something to be appreciated.
What this album does that’s quite unique to me, is that by the sound and emotion it gives off, it’s quite contrarian to it’s title. The second you start off the album with “Lifelike”, you hear birds chirping and walking, as if it were nature. This goes on for the whole album, it presents itself with one vibe but is trying to be its own opposite. The take that I was able to really gather from this was that the album is trying to be an artificial fake perfect life created genetically when in reality it’s been “nurtured” and created by us, or Porter in this situation. Now it’s time to get into the actual album…
We start off with “Lifelike”, a beautifully orchestrated introduction to this illustrious adventure, reminiscent of a cliche video game soundtrack but is perfect into the context of the album, which being that it feels like an interactive experience as much as a video-game. Just from the title, “Lifelike” it’s trying to be real but it’s not, it’s only lifelike, not life in itself. This theme of song-titles goes throughout the album, which I’ll discuss more on later.
Next we go to the album’s lead single “Look At The Sky” which may not be my favorite single from the album, but it’s definitely a front-runner. The song presents a bright outlook on the future, bringing out the topic of appreciating the small things in life. If there’s one thing that this album does, it makes you think, and it really made me recollect my thoughts and look at my life. This song in specific for the last few months of listening to it, made me appreciate a lot more things in my life.
This transitions into “Get Your Wish”, another strong single from the album, with eccentric energy and a memorable chorus. This song is about finding a reason to keep moving forward, even if it’s not for your own sake. Speaking of Porter's failure to write music and being crushed by it but was able to overcome it just by moving forward. This perfectly goes into the song “Wind Tempos” which it’s first 30 seconds feels like an uprising, the breakthrough that he previously spoke on with “Get Your Wish”. This long 3-4 minute beautiful buildup, is quite hit or miss for me the more I think of it. The less I think of it, it feels monotonous, but the more I look into its details, the more I seek out for perfection, the more it glows out for me. It’s amazing buildup has this large payoff that made it not feel like it overstayed its welcome for me and made me feel satisfied with the long wait.
Porter’s personal favorite song, “Musician” is his feeling of invincibility, and as if on the peak of a mountain, on the top of his game when it comes to his inspiration and creativity. One of the grander sounding tracks with a hard-hitting pop chorus. As one of the last singles for the album, this specifically had me sold on the album and automatically confirmed that “Nurture” would be great, consistent even. Leaving the peak of this album, we go to the start of the climb, his childhood with “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do”, with it’s childish sounding name, it’s supposed to feel like rollerblading through your neighborhood, feeling freedom in a childlike state. It brings it back to a more humble beginning, a time of bliss and no care.
The song “Mother” has one of the more blunt subject-matters in the whole album, it’s about the expression of love to his parents, perfectly standing beside “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do”. Porter expresses his love for his parents, trying his best to stay by their side for his whole life. A great node to his parents, which adds this personal touch to the album, making us feel more connected to Porter’s mind and life just from a song alone, which I enjoy greatly. “Dullscythe” is the 2nd instrumental based track on the album, an abstract/experimental track that feels chaotic yet calming at the same time (this may be a take I only agree with). It’s nothing exactly special but is a highlight on the record nevertheless.
“Sweet Time” is a song about being in love with someone so much that you’re afraid of losing your life as that would take you apart, not being able to be together forever. Dedicated to his girlfriend, Rika, Porter said this “In the lyrics, I talk about going to find God to make sure she’s okay, and it makes me cry every time. I was bawling my eyes out in the studio, I could barely get the words out. In the end, though, it’s also an expression of gratitude, because the world is lucky to have her. Rika and I have been together four years, and honestly it’s really time for me to propose. But I wanted to wait until after the pandemic.” It’s about the little time we have and the eternal pain you feel of being so in love to the point you don’t want to ever lose it without it being controlled from either person. This large message and meaning to me really, really struck me.
“Mirror”, although one of the weaker cuts off the album, it’s subject-matter makes up for what it is sonically. A song about the costs of being too hard on yourself, or looking into a mirror. Burdening yourself, your inner voice being so critical of yourself, self inflicted. He was looking at his work so negatively and critically to the point where he felt shame and failure from what he made instead of being happy with the art he curated. With this song, it’s the liberation of the grips of that “mirror” that judged him all along, letting his thoughts leave his path and not listening to the judgemental inner voice.
The second promotional single for the album, “Something Comforting” is a song that in my opinion brings all of the ideas presented to the table from “Nurture” into one track, aka the seed for everything that was made on the album. When making something, you need a base, and this is the album’s base, a very large and strong one at that. Easily my favorite single off the project, but not the best song either. Next comes the love ballad “Blossom”, a song about a blossoming relationship and a start of a new love, and even the stage where the blossoming is finished but the love is still present. Encapsulates actual true love and happiness.
As I said before, “Something Comforting” isn’t the best song, but “Unfold” is. The only true collaboration on the album with the artist TEED, this is easily the strongest song on the album sonically. The subject-matter is about watching everything unfold and grow before you so fast to the point you reminisce over your past. What’s ironic is that it speaks on it’s past but sonically gives off vibes from Porter’s debut album “Worlds” more than his future, truly extending off the fact that it’s reminiscing over the past and being reminiscent of the past as well. But as Porter said, we have to move forward.
The closer on here “Trying To Feel Alive” ends off this beautiful long ride perfectly. For the whole time, the album is trying to come across that he’s now happier and what he’s done to take those steps and where he is now but ironically at the end of it all, he seems to question it all.
“Maybe it's the gift that I couldn't recognize?
Maybe I don't really need to feel satisfied?
Maybe it's a gift that I spent all this time
Just trying to feel alive?
Maybe I don't really want to be satisfied?
Maybe it's the gift that I couldn't recognize?
Maybe this is all...
Maybe this was all?”
What was all of this for? Well, Porter answers this question at the end of the song. Realizing that this album, the songs he wrote and produced for his fans was really for him. A gift that he wasn’t able to recognize till now whilst writing this song, having an epiphany in the moment that this album was Porter’s attempt at feeling alive again...
Now, what does this album mean to me?
This record quite frankly means a lot more to me than just an album. As AOTY user @halbery said in their review, this album although to a lesser extent, is like a distant memory of an old friend. I’m telling you all this because this was the mindset I was put into whenever listening to this album, and it will provide a little bit more context to the review so bare with me. With this personal experience with the album, for what this album doesn’t make up for in quality, it makes up for in sentimental value for me, which ultimately makes me less judgemental on the album. That’s what “Nurture” means to me, and that’s why I love the album.
This album brought friends together, just take a look at the (as I’m writing), 13 thousand comments here. There’s history here. This album brought us all together, and you all know who I am talking about and I love and appreciate you guys as you are some of the greatest people to talk to, so thank you Porter and thank you Nurture chat! To end off the review, Porter’s “Nurture” is an amazingly solid album with a bunch of replayable tracks with a great meaning behind it. It’s meaning to me is hard to ignore and I will forever appreciate this album.
Thank you, all of you!
Favorite Tracks: Look at the Sky, Get Your Wish, Wind Tempos, Musician, Mother, dullscythe, Something Comforting, Unfold, Trying To Feel Alive
Least Favorite Track: Mirror