“My greatest desire is to feel understood”
Porter Robinson, 2020
I felt my whole body light up. I felt an intense frisson as I blasted the volume right into my ears. I’d never felt this happy in a long time. I’d never felt this intense amount of euphoria simply from listening to a song.
What I’m describing is my immediate response to listening to Get Your Wish by Porter Robinson.
It had only been announced the day before. I had gotten home from school and looked at my phone. My friend texted me, in such a calm, mature way:
“New porter single tomorrow,”
I instantly threw my phone down. Dashed to the nearest place I could find YouTube, looked up porter’s channel, and there it was. “Get your wish - Official Music Video”. It was premiering tomorrow, at 2:00 PM. I couldn’t believe it. My entire body shook. I was losing it. Not only that, but right next to it was, “Porter Robinson 2nd album - ‘nurture’ (announcement)”. I instantly clicked on it. I was so excited. I was hit with cryptic text, tons of squiggly lines that looked straight out of MS Paint, a very odd, heavily processed, granulated synth sound, with raw text, all surrounding a bunch of messily placed pictures and photos of nature. It was such an interesting aesthetic. Heavy distorted drums panning left to right with granulated synths built up, only for it to end with a small piano melody and a new logo. It was beautiful. It was unlike anything I had EVER seen or heard. Nurture had such a unique theme. While Worlds was all about digital, distant, fantasy worlds, and was in one sense an Ode to digital worlds and songs, this new album would take more of a close, authentic, and intimate approach, being an ode to reality. The exact opposite of everything Porter was known for.
The next 24 hours were tortuous, knowing that soon, a new Porter Robinson song would be out. His first song in 2 years, his first song under his own name in almost 4 years, and the first song off the first album of his in almost 6 years. That was insane to me. I didn’t want to listen to the song until I could listen to it with good speakers with the Music video. And I couldn’t do that in school. So I had to sit in study hall, watching the clock turn 2:00, and I just sat there. Knowing other porter fans were listening to it right then and being blown away. All I wanted to do was listen to his new song.
Little did I know what the next 450 days had in store for me.
Finally, about an hour later, I was home. I turned on the song. And I was hit by a small, cute, simple piano sound before it transformed into a huge intro with spacious, lush chords and very poppy vocal chops. The vocals came in, and they sounded like a Vocaloid, or at least that's what I thought it was. The song uses a pretty normal Pop song structure, but it didn’t need to have anything complex. For a pop song, it has a very unique chord progression. I believe it uses 8 chords (12 if you count variations of said chords) among 3 chord progressions. The sheer amount of detail in the song was insane. If you listen closely, you can hear so many little things. you can find tons of Foley drums in the pre-chorus, many real instruments, and sheer ear candy throughout the song’s flow. All of this combined with Bossa-nova, j-pop, indie, and jazz influences and math-rock drums. The mix of the song (and the album as a whole) is very raw and unpolished, clearly in theme with nurture’s visual aesthetic. Porter said in an AMA on Reddit that his favorite music was always imperfect sounding or under-produced. And it works. He uses stereo shaping and imagery to make it where you can hear so many elements of the mix, even with the muddiness. The shaker is in the middle of the mix, the harp is far away to the right, the chords seem spaced out, and the rhythmic and melodic parts are right in front of you. It’s clearly deliberate, and I think it's genius. No one accidentally makes a mix like this when they are trying to sound clear and precise and aren’t skilled enough. Nurture is controlled and purposeful in its messiness. Porter knew what he was doing when he was mixing. Porter made the sound muddy, but the song’s use of panning and stereo shaping distinguish the main elements of the song creating a unique and creative mixing style that stands out and fits Porter's artistic vision. It’s fantastic. When I listen to most of the nurture songs NOW, the way it’s mixed makes it so that you feel you are fully immersed in the sound. It’s very hard to describe, but it allows me to just get lost in the sounds more than any other album. Fun fact: the opening foley was the sound of porter starting a voice metronome and putting his phone down to record, and it synced perfectly with the metronome.
What I love about this song and the album as a whole is that the album sounds raw, and real, and authentic, but at the same time sounds artificial, electronic, and heavily processed. It’s a weird blend, and it works. It’s unique and distinct from any other electronic music.
I later learned that his vocals were his own, just pitched up. And this sound would be used in the entire album. Unlike most songs that use pitch shifting, Nurture’s don’t sound comedic or silly. When most people think “Pitch shifted vocals” they usually think of something silly sounding, like hyper pop, but Nurture’s sound close, emotional, and vulnerable. I’ve seen people try to replicate Porter’s vocal processing and the result sounds like pretentious 100 gecs. Porter has a unique and beautiful way of making his vocals feel like they can be taken seriously despite the heavily high-pitched and processed vocals. And the lyrics boosted that feeling.
Following the song’s release, Porter said that he went through an intense, two-year period of total emotional struggle. From mental health to family illness, and Porter's struggles with writing anything he was proud of, and his fear that his fans would reject his music, that period of his life was hard on him. He talked about how he would spend an unhealthy amount of time each day obsessing over trying to make something he loved, and that Nurture was a sort of diary of his own path back to happiness. This would represent what Nurture was as a whole, a personal work of art delving into Porter’s struggles, anxieties, and feelings, and that lyrics and emotional intimacy were more important to him when writing music then they ever had been.
Get Your Wish specifically, is 2015/2016 Porter asking himself, “Did you really do it? Did you actually get your wish? Are you really fulfilled?” Porter had millions of fans, he toured around the world, he made one of the most influential albums in electronic music, yet he still didn’t feel like he got what he wanted. This song is a beautiful reminder that our meaning and happiness does not strictly come from our achievements. Our fulfillment in life doesn’t come from simply achieving glory or fame and our happiness needs to grow elsewhere.
“External validation is a cup with a whole in the bottom.”
The next Month, Porter released “Something Comforting”, the most EDM-y the singles would ever be like. While the singles after Something comforting all sounded like indie synth-pop and borderline ambient music that had completely removed themselves from the EDM genre, Something Comforting is a song I feel is very EDM, which is a nice change of pace. The song features very punchy chords, a drum and bass influence, super crisp vocal chops, satisfying and smooth transitions, and everything about the song’s drop is so lively and captivating. It also featured his chest voice alongside his artificial pitch-shifted voice. While Nurture is mainly filled with sampled instruments and more authentic (yet electronic-sounding) instruments, Something Comforting’s chorus is largely built on synths. I also love the varied styles of drums. I cannot praise the instrumentation, climatic sounds, and beautiful vocals enough. It’s crisp, it has beautiful harmonies in the post-chorus, the second verse’s contrast from fast to halftime drums is an impactful moment, and the ending is powerful in it’s stripped instrumental. The song closes with Porter’s high and chest pitched vocals switching back and forth. I don’t know why… but this made the emotions of the song much more potent. When vocals glitch out like that I think it adds a certain emotion I can’t describe. The only adjective I can think of is powerlessness or hopelessness but I don’t know if that quite captures it.
It can be easy to lose hope. In a world full of suffering, misery, and destruction, it’s easy to feel lost, scared, or confused. Sometimes, we are desperately trying to forget all of the awful things in the world. Sometimes, you just need to hear, feel, or see something comforting.
Overall, I think this is the definitive Porter Robinson song. I think it does a perfect job of capturing a little bit of everything Porter has done since his single Language back in 2012. It’s got the video-gamey, EDM-heavy sound from Worlds and Language, it’s got the drums that sound straight out of his side project Virtual Self, and of course, the lyrics, composition, and instrumentation of Nurture throughout the verses. It encompasses most of Porter’s influences and sound palettes into one song.
Nurtu.re was put online about a month later. An interactive website where you could explore digital environments meant to represent the music videos for nurture. The site would automatically connect you with someone else online, and you would explore these cell-shaded environments with them while listening to the music of nurture. A player would be represented by a beam of light, taking inspiration from the lines and squiggles that the Nurture art commonly uses in it’s aesthetic. You couldn’t talk to them or anything, but you would experience these Worlds and explore with someone else. You could even enter this area where you both scribble the nurture lines anywhere, and that gave you a small amount of interaction. This was a small little website, but I love it. I think it’s genius. Interacting with a porter fan from the other side of the world was so fun and novel. It was such a unique way to connect with people who were just as stoked as you were for the new Porter Robinson album, especially during the pandemic and social distancing. You couldn’t talk to each other, but it felt like you were saying so much to them. “Fresh Static Snow” off Worlds was a song that represented this feeling.
“Though I’ll never know your name, I’d cry for you the same.”
This is EXACTLY how I felt about the people I was talking to. It was such a creative thing for Porter to do. I just love the way porter’s mind works. The site just felt so creative and magical.
What other artist would put effort and money into making an entire interactive website where you connect with other fans and explore the music videos in cell-shaded environments where you listen to the music? What other artist would do that?
The idea went even further on May 9th, aka the day Secret sky, the digital version of Porter’s Annual Festival that launched in 2019, second sky. The entire website was a digital auditorium where hundreds of people, represented by little squiggly lines, could move around in front of 3D visuals, and they showed a live video of the artists playing their set in the corner. They put a ton of effort into making their live show really feel like a real festival. I just love the creativity porter has. I love that he cared this much about making quarantine a little more bearable. During the hard times and the sheer inconvenience of Porter releasing music right as Covid happened, Porter still put so much effort into what he did. It’s things like this that make nurture already such a nostalgic and sentimental album to me. Waiting for this album and experiencing things like this were my biggest highlights of 2020.
During the end of Porter’s DJ set for Secret Sky, he demoed one specific song, “Look at the Sky”. This song would become one the most uplifting songs I ever heard. I’ve already written a LONG review about this song but previewing this song when he did, just hit at such a right time for most people. Nurture got so many people through quarantine. And the explosive, happy, Synthpop anthem that was “Look at the Sky” was the best way to tide people over while the nurture rollout was paused because of Covid. It meant so much to people. When I first listened to this song, I’m going to be honest, I didn’t love it as much as everyone else. I thought it was great, but he only showed about 2 minutes of the song. The Melodies were nice, but it felt like the most generic thing on Nurture. When the song was fully released over half a year later, it all fell into place to me, but the 2-minute demo felt generic compared to the other songs.
In August, Mirror, the song used in the Nurture Teaser back in January 2020, was put out. It’s fantastic, and it’s the least EDM song we had gotten from the 5 singles. It’s got a mysterious experimental intro, super punchy, glitchy drums that have character to them, the best lyrics, etc. However, It’s very compressed, more than any other porter song. It’s super good, just not something that hits hard emotionally like the rest. Definitely a track that needs to grow on you and it’s one you need to be in the mood for. I do love many things about it though. I already mentioned the drums and how engaging they are and draw you into the song. Porter makes some of the best drums In electronic music and this is no exception. The delicately played piano lifts the song in a way I can’t describe, and The panned-left modulated synth in verse 2 is something I can’t forget about either. Nurture is filled with sounds like this. These random, frantic, confused sampled voices are fantastic and I wish more people talked about them. I really can’t describe them and you don’t know what makes them so great until you hear them for yourself. The bridge is what makes the whole song for me. It’s fantastic as it nails the atmosphere of a brisk, rainy morning surrounded by nature with the synth solo, following that with a glitchy breakdown. Nurture’s entire sound palette and composition never fail to transport me to some other place in nature. Every song feels like it belongs in a certain place out in the world, and Mirror is the best example of this. The chord sound he uses as the song’s emotions become more intense is incredibly unique. It’s a sound that is very obviously used with a normal synth program, but I can’t pinpoint what kind of waveform it is. Is it a saw sound, a square sound, a combo of both? Is it multiple different voice sounds on top of each other? Stuff like this fascinates me because I don’t know what to call this lush chord sound design. Nurture’s production stands out in the little things as much as the big things. And of course, the final chorus significantly lifts the song with new harmonies and it’s a very well-executed ending. It's not necessarily my favorite, but when this song hits you, it REALLY hits you and is still a near-perfect song.
Mirror is about how hard we are on ourselves. Many of us constantly face criticism to the point that we start being our harshest critics. Out of all the nurture singles, this one faces the heaviest topics. I’m constantly hard on myself and it’s a huge problem. Sometimes I feel like I’m a failure and that I can’t do it. Sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror if you feel disappointed or frustrated at yourself.
I am an incredibly insecure person. I despise talking to new people in fear of judgment, I probably come across as stuck up or arrogant which makes me more insecure and it makes me look more stuck up and so on. I’m terrified of fucking talking to an employee at Mcdonald’s because of this. I constantly think other people are judging me. To the point that I barely do anything I want to do or express myself because of the discomfort anxiety brings. This song however brings me back into reality for a little. It makes me remember that not everyone is criticizing me at every second. You realize that most of these things come from the negative inner voice inside your head. Lyrically, this is one of the most compelling songs on nurture.
Despite it being my least favorite single as of writing this (it changes all the time), it's a song where you can see the growth and maturity in Porter’s songwriting. His debut album Worlds didn’t know what subtlety was. It was constantly loud and In my opinion, many songs didn’t have room to breathe in the form of soft sections. Sometimes those moments were necessary and I think it’s something Worlds lacked as an album. They were present in many songs, sure, but it didn’t make a huge difference when the majority of what I hear throughout that album is loud and Huge. Nurture on the other hand is an album that will restrain itself from going super sane on your ears and let the more experimental ideas present themselves, instead of shoving them in your face. It has a contrast between soft and loud. Worlds had many, many soft sections throughout, but other than a handful of songs, that album feels like it’s too loud and in your face. Sometimes it was just… unnecessary. Nurture has more frequent soft sections and moments of bliss and better for it. Giving you time to breathe.
Nurture’s overall blend of sounds is also something I can’t praise enough. Worlds’s influences were very clear. Video Games, anime, j-pop, and EDM. But with Nurture, while those influences are still here, it’s combined with indie, jazz, alternative, j-rock, pop, pop-rock, Acoustic rock, and lots more. Porter draws so many different influences here, while also doing his own thing in the process with his atmospheric sound design and lyrical content.
Using real instruments in nurture is fantastic as well. The album sounds largely electronic thanks to Porter’s granulated synths of his voice and heavy vocal processing, but many of the sounds are purely just sampled sounds of real instruments. It’s an incredibly unique combination and one reason nurture’s overall sound is so pleasant.
January 27th was one of the most euphoric and memorable days I’ve ever had. I was sitting in zoom meetings all day and just waiting, staring at the clock, hoping it would fly by quickly. It wasn’t even an hour from releasing, and I was dying to get on my computer and refresh porter’s YouTube until it released. I eventually got on, ignoring my zoom classes to talk to @SMTCubes as we both freaked out over Look at the Sky releasing.
Listening to that song for the first time and sharing that experience with someone who loved it as much as I do, was incredible.
The song finally clicked with me that day. Of course, hearing the song in higher quality and with a second verse helped the song stick out to me, but the attention to detail the song has is what makes it stand out.
I love the detail throughout the song. The foley and glitchy sounds throughout the verses are incredible. The first chorus is beautiful and makes a great first full song for the album--it encompasses a lot of Nurture’s poppier side. To add, lines like “I’ll be alive next year” and “...suddenly, I restored your faith in me” are lines that are so simple yet so impactful. “I’ll be alive next year,” says so much in so little. “Everything is hard and I feel like my life is meaningless, but I’ll remain hopeful, even if it feels pointless, I’ll hold on.” All of this is condensed into one powerful line, and it’s amazing. The line “And suddenly I restored your faith in me” shows progression and development in Porter’s mindset right before the most climactic moment in the song.
The sky is one of the most beautiful and calming things in all of nature. If you feel hopeless, the beauty of the sky can remind you that there is still good in the world. “Look at the Sky” is a truly beautiful sentence.
I adore the softer detours used here. The acoustic passage is gorgeous and intimate. The second bridge is much different. The ambient synths, the glockenspiel-type, arpeggiating sound, and Porter’s vocals, as soothing as they are, feel uncertain and insecure. The glitchy vocals in the background are beautiful and help build the atmosphere until the listener is lost in a sea of beautiful sounds. If Porter is good at anything production-wise, it’s the atmosphere he develops in his songs, and Look at the Sky is an amazing example of that. Before you know it, it all goes quiet, and as Porter sings, “LOOK AT THE SKYYYYYY”, it instantly builds and builds, the intensity increasing as live drums and violin and piano flood the mix. Finally, it’s all paying off. It’s a satisfying, climactic breakdown where emotions flow throughout. It’s one of the most ethereal, triumphant moments I’ve heard in Porter’s music, and it brings the listener to their emotional limit. Satisfyingly transitioning to the last chorus, it ends in the best way possible. It’s so uplifting. The chorus is largely the same, but the ambient chords in the background have evolved, making the song much fuller. The last outro sounds so beautiful. The ambiance and chilling sounds make you feel somewhat melancholic after the wave of euphoria you had just experienced. His voice sounds quakey. He’s struggling to find the hope to move on, but won’t let himself fade out. He keeps on. Despite the heavy vocal effects, Porter’s voice is more emotional than most vocalists can make their voice. This song is just a magical, sparkly burst of feels. Fun fact: the outro is sung with a broken microphone.
At this song’s release, we finally got all the information of nurture we had been dying for. April 23rd release, 14 tracks, a beautiful cover art, White vinyl pressing, all new merch, a box set, art book, I wanted to pass out. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. It was finally here. The album was so close, yet so far. And it feels like that was just yesterday.
The cover art for this is phenomenal. It’s just so bold and unique. I’ve always had a thing for album covers that don’t have any text on them, so combining that with the vibrant colors and porter just laying down in the grass, it just clicks. I think it looks exactly how the album sounds as well. It’s such an immersive sound. I feel like I’m surrounded by everything going on in the mix. Like I’m just a tiny speck in this massive wave of sound. I don’t know if I’m explaining it right, but that’s as close as I can get and the full vibrant art explains the sound better than I ever could.
And not just the cover art, all the art, whether it be for the singles, promotional art, the artbook, the music videos, they are all so imaginative and creative. I always loved how the art for musicians was mainly Light while the others were mainly darker. Showing the contrast between him being unsure of the music he was making with those songs, and the confidence and happiness he had found around the time of starting Musician.
The overall aesthetic for nurture is something I cannot praise enough. The lines representing the frustration of creativity, the glitchy text combined with the beautiful imagery of life and nature, all of which represent Nurture’s sound. It sounds real but is still very electronic. Its instrumentals are mainly sampled instruments and granulated synths, but it’s done in such a way that sounds very electronic. It sounds raw and unpolished, but still exquisite. And all of it gives me strong indie vibes, which I adore and I think works perfectly with Porter.
Musician, funnily enough, as the 5th single, had the shortest wait time we’ve had in between singles. This song was originally never supposed to be on Nurture, but following the start of lockdown, Porter realized he had more time to work on the album, and upon finishing this song, added it to the tracklist. And it has the most interesting backstory behind its production. In 2019, Porter and Kero Kero Bonito started a collaboration that ended up never getting finished, and just months before he announced Nurture, Porter took the demo and chopped its verse up to make the Musician instrumental. For the drums, Musician samples “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, along with the iconic “Woo!”, “Yeah!” sounds from it. This use of sounds creates the most “out-there” song released as a single. It stands out so much.
And I can’t go on without praising the lyrics. Many of my favorite lines from the whole album are in this song. “But sincerely, can’t you feel what I’m feeling?” When making art, everything you write comes from your imagination, ideas, your vision, and what feels good to you. We are all unique individuals and can feel misunderstood when putting things into an art form that is interpreted in so many different ways.
“How do you do music? Well, it’s easy! You just face your fears, and become your heroes! ...I don’t understand why you’re freaking out.” I can’t properly explain why I love this line so much. I can’t describe it but it’s a fun line that I can’t help but sing along with every time it comes on. I think it’s sarcastic and negative which is different from 99% of the lyrics on the album.
As for the sound of the song itself, it nails the feeling of being happy and carefree. It’s basically just “ear candy” the song. It’s a breezy, addicting, playful, and adorably fun song. The feeling of accomplishment and pure happiness that this song instills is so intense. Straight up euphoric bliss. You can tell porter was so happy when writing this. I adore the early 2010s synthpop vibes. Passion pit and owl city come to mind as the piano sections here feel like they were taken straight out of a song by those artists. Just like the rest of the singles, you can notice so much more detail on every repeated listen. Like how the super saws in the bridge also play in the final chorus to progress the song. It also sounds a little bit-pop-inspired, which I love. While you are supposed to take many other songs on Nurture seriously, as many are emotional or close and intimate, this song just wants to have fun. The bridge is so silly and wacky and I adore it. I can’t help but smile when I hear it. I love how as soon as it starts the energy never goes away. It’s kind of like the “Flicker'' (from His debut album) of Nurture. Both songs are super hyper and cute, both songs are based on samples of other songs, and both are just a blast to listen to. And the ending piano melody makes a bittersweet ending to what is for the most part a quirky song.
You may wonder why much of this review up to this point has been listing off all this information about nurture instead of just, you know, reviewing the album. I’ve looked at everything in chronological order of announcement to release. Why? Because Nurture means a lot to me. It could be the worst album in Synthpop history and still, it would mean a lot to me. The hype for this album got me through most of 2020. I get nostalgic thinking about when we only had 2 singles. It made me so happy, and I’ve made so many memories with this album. I just felt the need to talk about my experience leading up to the album because it’s severely affected my opinion of porter’s music and my experience with 2020.
I want to back up a little to July 2020, as this is when Nurture was solidified as one of my favorite albums ever: The release of Anamanaguchi’s remix of Get your wish.
The song on its own, when I come back to it, isn’t AMAZING. It’s super muddy and too high-pitched at times. However, it got me into Anamanaguchi, who now is one of my favorite bands ever. [USA] is my 2nd favorite album of all time. It’s fantastic. And during the month where I started to love this band, I checked out more music and got dedicated to broadening my music taste. Nurture introduced me to so many artists and made me more active on this website. I love AOTY and the whole community. Once this album was really getting hype here, I realized just how amazing the community is. It’s one of the most progressive, inclusive, fun, and just welcoming communities ever. Almost everyone I’ve met here has been so cool and friendly and amazing.
I then met SMTCubes. One of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He also loved Anamanaguchi, and just like me, said that Porter Robinson - Worlds was his favorite album of all time. I stumbled upon his review of the remix of Get your wish a very high score, he said something along the lines of “This is even better when you imagine Luke playing the drums” and it was just so cool to me that someone else knew Porter and a band so well to know the drummer’s NAME. I followed him and after a bit, we started talking and screwing around in the Nurture comment section on this site, and soon I met other cool people, some of which I talk to regularly now. I realized he and I have almost the same music taste and sense of humor and we got along perfectly. As I saw him review more artists, I branched out in my music tastes, and without him, I probably wouldn’t have found many of my favorite artists.
And that makes it so hard to say goodbye. Back before his parents were more strict with social media, we were taking like 5 hours a day. He was by far the kindest person I’ve ever met. And anyone could get along with him. He brought an entire friend group together in the comment section of a niche music rating site. Without him the waiting experience for this album would have sucked so much more. He’s pretty much a monk. And when you're told without warning that you’ll never get to talk to a good friend like him ever again, you don’t know how to handle it.
We were both ecstatically excited for this album, it was going to be the highlight of our year. Our excitement for this album made our friendship blossom and it breaks my heart that I’ll never know what his favorite song is, or which song made him cry, or if he even liked the album or not.
It just makes me incredibly sad I’ll never have the same friendship with him ever again.
I know that on the other side of the country, he’s listened to the album, and that makes me really happy. We finally have the music we wanted so bad, and I just wish he could experience it with the rest of us.
Nurture led me to make awesome friends through the internet, it caused me to find some of my favorite music and overall did so much for me. Regardless of whether nurture ever was a “Good” album or not, it holds a lot of sentimental value to me. You really can’t put a score on something that introduced you to awesome people and gave you a community to find music and express your love for it, the same way you score any other album. I will always associate the good memories, and the bad, with this. I don’t know if being in this community will feel the same after this album's release, and not everything went perfectly, but I enjoyed all the time we had together.
I just want to say thank you to Rob for running this amazing site (and putting up with the shit we caused in the nurture comment section, sorry about that) to SMTCubes and everyone else in Nurture squad for being so cool. I love you all. I loved checking that place every day and The sense of community I got from it. It was like our own, crazy, public group chat where we all fell into insanity and I loved it. It raised my hype and excitement for the whole album and made this whole experience much more sentimental. I think some people thought we were just shitposting or memeing but no, We talked because we genuinely were friends and had fun and were hyped for this project. Out of all the people, I could have possibly met, I’m so glad I met all of you. The chances are so slim and I’m so grateful. I don’t want to mention all of you because If I forget one person I’d feel so bad but just know I love you and you are amazing. This album’s music will forever be associated with you all. Thank you. <33333
And cubes, if you're reading this, I’m so thankful for every minute we spent talking. I’m so glad I could say goodbye to you. I don’t understand anything right now but I’m still so glad I met you. You have no idea how much this experience would have been different if it wasn’t for you. Stay safe. <3
“It's all about learning to tolerate [anxiety] rather than avoiding anything that might make you feel uncomfortable.”
Throughout the announcement of the release date to the actual date, my fears grew. Every song had been absolutely wonderful, but for some reason, I was still so scared I would be disappointed. Terrified that all the memes and over-hyping and shitposting we had done here on AOTY would have been comical and for nothing and that everything would feel disappointing. As the date approached, I was becoming petrified about the satisfaction this album would or would not bring. Day of release, I was stressing about how I would listen to the album. I needed it to be perfect. No distractions, no interruptions. Lights off. No paying attention to how long or short the songs were or what song I was on. I needed it to be loud, perfect, and zero interruptions. But when I finally got there… I was almost too nervous to hit play. It was a mix of intense nervousness and excitement. I was about to experience the album I’ve been waiting on for exactly 451 days.
But I did it. I hit play.
Sentimental bliss. Ambient chords and a soft piano melody hugging my ears tight before I’m Transported into a beautiful forest. The warm orchestral instrumentation takes huge inspiration from Studio Ghibli and sounds straight out of an anime or JRPG. It’s the kind of song you feel so much gratitude listening to. The wet, splashy-sounding bells and Irish ifluenced instruments pleasantly surprised me as this song is so dense with instrumentation and almost none of it is electronic. The strings and subtle electronics whisper to you, “it’s here, Nurture is here, it was worth every day you spent waiting, and everything is going to be okay.” It’s a burst of joy, it’s a charming, fluffy, beautiful opener that gives you a slight insight into the vocals and atmosphere of the album. An emotional, sentimental rollercoaster of orchestral sounds, electronic sounds, and processed, yet passionate vocals.
It quickly becomes apparent to me that all these songs flow very well together. Look at the sky and Get Your Wish belong right next to each other and create an amazing opening along with LikeLike.
After the pop anthems we all know and love, Wind tempos starts.
And suddenly you're flying.
The piano and dry vocal chops lift you into the clouds, the breezy shaker slowly falling out of time and forming a song with 2 different tempos, creates a breezy feeling, the violin’s triumphant melody soothes your soul, and the thick textured chords and Porter’s vocals are the extra cherries on top. You feel invincible at first as the 6-minute ambient piece evolves and evolves. You feel weightless. You feel like the world is full of possibility and meaning. But as the unsettling bit-crushed sound effects, subtle bass, choir, and arpeggios add depth and life and emotion, you start wondering how long this feeling will last. Suddenly, something in you breaks. It’s stripped back to a small, bittersweet piano melody. You lose your ability to fly as you fall violently to the ground. You’ve lost everything. The windy, careless feeling goes away. You are weak and helpless.
The vocals abruptly begin and it’s hard not to get teary-eyed as the hopeless, dying voice sings its last words. Glitchy, robotic vocals have always seemed to have a certain melancholic, beautiful tone to them. The closing song on Worlds is a great example of this. I can’t describe it but voices like these make me tear up every time.
And then you ask yourself, “Why can’t I fly?”
Frantically, you hear a computer mouse click. Over and over again. Porter is changing the vocal effects in real time, frantically trying to make it sound right. And as the song continues to become more broken, lost, and confused, you do too. All you want to do is fly again. The vocal melody gets lost in a sea of disparity and confusion. It’s barely recognizable as it struggles to stay together.
But as you give up, something clicks.
And as the song draws to a close, the uplifting piano starts again, and you feel like you can fly again.
Wind Tempos is Porter making something he’s happy with, feeling amazing, feeling like he’s free then suddenly slowly feeling the writer's block kick in, before ultimately breaking down, frantically trying to produce something meaningful, and just before losing all hope, finding a reason to try again. While it has no actual meaning in the lyrics, the melodies and imagination and vocal tones make this one of the most emotionally captivating songs on the album. It says so little yet feels like so much more. It’s a borderline ambient, experimental, rush of emotions
It’s when I realized Nurture would be a very, very different album than simply the Synth-pop one I expected.
“Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do” is a delight of a song. It retains the same fast pace, rushing feeling that the preceding song “Musician” had. Porter wrote it in 8 hours, which is fitting for the song's carefree and rushy vibe. Sporting a bit crushed drum beat and a simple cheery guitar beat, this IDM-inspired track will surely leave a big impression. The song’s refrain is mainly built on delicate dreamy piano arpeggios, along with an atmosphere that, just like every other song here, cannot be praised enough. And just before it gets old, Porter does something to make it interesting. Whether making the whole mix reverbed for a few seconds or adding softer moments, everything feels refreshing.I feel like I’m out in a public park and kinda taking in all the scenery and nature without focusing. Like Skipping through the forest while you’re on drugs. A trippy experience you can never fully process, and a memorable one that is begging to be replayed.
I love the cutesy sample of what sounds like a child speaking Japanese. Adding to the childlike wonder of the whole song and especially the happier ones. Oh and porter’s vocals! They sound super light-headed and tired and dazzle-y. Like I said, drugs. The crushed, low-quality sound gives them a charming character. When you hear them, you can’t help but sing along. Very cute and expressive.
The feeling of having so much to say, but not knowing how to say it, is expertly expressed through do-re-mi's simple lyrics. "There is so much I want to say, so Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do". It's simple, but it says so much. We struggle to find the words, and sometimes, a simple Major scale can say so much more than lyrics.
Mother is a bombastic, detailed, glitchy banger, dedicated to Porter’s parents. It’s a spacious, wide, glitch-pop tune with detailed shrilling sound effects and passionate vocals and one that almost catches you off guard after the string of passionately happy, soft, or pretty-sounding songs. As Mother sounds a bit aggressive in the mood. A big contrast between the delicate sound of this album and also the message of this song.
If there is anything I can praise about this song it’s the percussion. The loud, hard-hitting drums are the stand-out instrument of the whole song. The variation and pure aggression in the second verse and the detailed foley drums can't be ignored as it’s the highlight of the whole song. The drums of Mother are the centerpiece to making the song as anthemic and epic sounding as it is. Fun Fact: all the drums in this song are made entirely from synthesizers.
As of the rest of the instrumentation, this song may be the most complex out of any song on the album. Its production is incredibly dense and impactful. My favorite parts are when the reverse piano and orchestra are heard clearly, and the return of the heavier electronic elements that are mostly absent through the album adds variety to the song. Listening closely after the first chorus you can hear another voice and I’m very curious where it comes from. The glitchy effects and panned instruments add tension and anxiety, likely representing Porter’s fear to leave his home. The most noticeable part of this is the bridge, with an aggressive and passionate autotune synth solo and drums morphing in real-time, it’s a very messy but memorable section that makes me want to headbang.
Porter talked about how moving out during the writing of nurture terrified him. It seemed as if he would never see his parents, dog, or family ever again. The song sees Porter being comforted, realizing that he wasn’t leaving his childhood forever.
My favorite line is "and I've known the feeling you had when you're helped/held, the comfort of being unwell so something can cradle you"
Dullscythe is the most experimental song Porter Robinson has made and it’s not even close. I’m not sure it even has a clear tempo or time signature. Starting off with a looping, glitchy piano melody that almost makes you wonder if your headphones are properly plugged in, the atmosphere is set, and anxiety creeps in as the piano melody becomes more unsettling. The drums kick in and the offbeat, glitchy atmosphere becomes harder and harder to comprehend, the ear-piercing sounds and small, gut-wrenching cut clips of Porter's voice keep on getting more intense before and you start to wonder, “when is it all going to come together?” it’s so chaotic and on first listen you may get frustrated or confused.
But then, the entire song changes. Trance, video-game esc synths come in for a moment, letting you try to comprehend what you’ve been hearing before the glitchy, incomprehensible sounds make their way back, but this time, instead of frustrating the listener, it starts to make sense of itself, the piano melody is no longer glitching out, the strings and drums are no longer out of place, the virtual self elements start to mix well every other instrument. The loud, distorted drums make their way back but this time, they are controlled and no longer a confusing mix of anger. The song goes from being a manifestation of frustration, anger, and fear, to a song that’s beautiful, happy, and with a satisfying ending. It ends with a bombastic drum beat layered over beautiful melodic and blissful melodic instrumental.
It’s very obvious that this song, like wind tempos, represents the frustration porter had when making this album. It starts with a good idea, but as porter tries to develop it, all he hears is noise, and the more he works on it to make it better, the more frustrated he gets. The pain and fear rise and nothing works anymore. But pushing through, keeping your hope, is when the creativity blooms into something beautiful. The anger goes away, and the bliss of the calming piano strings the song together into something captivating.
At this point, I was blown away on my first listen. I was hoping for something more experimental than the singles, but I never saw this coming. I was like “wait THIS is what the albums gonna sound like?” Suddenly, Many things Porter said about the album pre-release made so much more sense. I wasn’t able to comprehend the music I was hearing, but I was so happy. It was everything I wanted it to be.
Sweet time, is indeed, a very sweet song. The somewhat jazzy grand piano melody and fluffy, heavenly chords open the song and bring you a bittersweet love song about how we never have enough time with the people we care about. Specifically, how Porter wants to spend the rest of his time with Rika, his girlfriend. Lyrically it’s one of the best on the album. “I don’t wanna know you just once” and “since I met you I don’t wanna die no more” put in perspective the huge difference in Porter’s world view 6 years ago and now. He’s discussed that he used to find that he didn’t want to grow old past 30, and Rika made him change that mindset.
My favorite line in the whole song is “all the world is lucky to be your home”. It's so sweet and displays how much heart Porter put into this album and how much he cares for the people around him.
Instrumentally, the soft and wistful instruments and climatic drums contrast each other in the most beautiful way. The lush chords, beautiful reverbed soundscapes, the slightly jazzy piano, all contribute to the huge, dreamy piece. It’s got some owl city influence too but not done in a way that’s cheesy. Before things get too stale, a quick and cute little bass solo plays before the entire mix gets drowned in gorgeous chords in the final chorus, then ending with a large set of reversed, lively instruments and sound effects, sort of worlds-like, along with crisp spacious vocal chops with the final line, “and I won’t spend time resenting the way things are.” Giving a final realization that Porter shouldn’t be wasting his time resenting the world when he sees so many amazing things and has an amazing person he can always love. Fun fact: the metallic sound in the piano solo is rika!!
This and “Get your Wish” are kinda like sister songs. The half-time bossa-nova feel is shared in both songs and the main adjective that comes to mind is “Lush”. It’s very lively and swingy and emotional, and it sounds so pretty.
This song reminds me of SMTCubes, and how I wish I could spend more time with him than the short few months we had together. I took our conversations for granted, as with everyone else on this website. It will all be over soon and that makes me incredibly sad. One day, we’ll all be 40 and have nothing but vague memories of the times we spent here. I wish I could reverse time and experience it all again.
Following singles Mirror and Something Comforting, Blossom, the guitar lullaby, starts. One of the warmest and peaceful songs I’ve ever heard, and the most powerful lyrically. Since it’s a ballad, I can’t say too much about it but it does create a nice, soft, relaxing break from the rest of the chaotic songs near the end. It’s melancholic and beautiful and the song to cry to on this LP.
Blossom is about wanting the love of your life to be as happy as possible. Slowing the days to spend as much time together as possible, running away to a place where God can’t find them, and realizing the anxiety from the little time you have left together only makes the days you do have that much harder.
Throughout the whole song, the familiar high-pitched voice is used, but when porter says, “it’s just that I love you” the voice goes back to Porter’s natural voice and that’s probably the most emotionally potent part of the song. It’s a beautifully written, sentimental love song that anyone can cherish.
Fun Fact: Rika, Porter's girlfriend and the subject of this song, means "blossom", hence the name.
The shoegaze-y Unfold is the most hard-hitting and emotionally potent on the whole album. Featuring Totally enormous extinct dinosaurs, a British DJ who hasn’t done much since 2012, the song already feels different with the Change in vocal sound.
Opening with a soft and gentle chord melody with the ethereal and lush vocals from TEED, unfold’s beautiful production is instantly recognizable. A dreamy and heart-wrenching emotion fills you as Porter’s vocals come in, the song becomes heavier, the kick adds a hopeful but dark feeling I can’t really describe. Heartbroken but still fighting. Losing hope but desperately holding. Longing for something. It sounds cold and wintery, which is the exact opposite of most of the imagery used in Nurture.
The lines “I put my pictures down, they’re not as good as the real thing, I wish I could go home, ‘Your just nostalgic’” as the elegant chords and ethereal ambiance fill the sound. If we take these lines literally, I think they represent Porter’s struggle with feeling separated from his childhood home. He wants to go home because that’s where he remembers happiness. And after moving out he feels as if he can no longer make the music he’s proud of. Or maybe, “home” is a metaphor, representing his old music. So desperately wanting to go back to where he felt at home, but realizing it’s just nostalgia.
The larger-than-life chorus explodes, and your emotional limit has been reached yet again. The chaotic, crushing, breakbeat style drums and huge, epic, war-like feeling are perfect. It sounds like a fight like Porter knows he has it in him to make something good but hasn’t achieved it yet. And it sounds triumphant. It’s a tear-jerker of a song and the best chorus on the full album.
The misty-eyed nostalgia of the bridge and melancholic composition, the slight use of guitar all of contributing to the most climactic song porter as ever written.
As the song progresses, the harsh, ear-piercing, distorted noises fill the mix as the beautiful voices from both porters and TEED sing till their dying breath. It sounds a little like A.G. cook and adds that PC music influence. Everything crumbles in on itself, and you're left wondering if all of Porter’s problems are meant to be solved by the end.
Then, Trying to Feel Alive starts playing.
The splashy and nostalgic plucks from lifelike are back, an owl city type vocal chop and a beautiful atmospheric sound design (I know I’m overusing that word but it can’t be said enough) grow and you have this feeling of relief. The album is over, and it’s been a ride, but it all makes sense. Then Porter’s pretty, lush, and blissful vocals come back and tie the whole thing together… but it’s just the beginning.
Really drums and bass guitar, giving a j-rock influence and delicate, high pitched, and if I’m not mistaken, no pitch modifications.
After all this journey, after the emotional struggle, the heartfelt writing, the pain, and the love, and the 7-year wait, was porter cured of his intense creative struggle and despair?
No, and that’s okay.
We all strive to become better and better. If you're passionate about any talent or skill you know the feeling of thinking you’ve peaked and you can no longer do better. But because of that you always know to push forward, because the better you get, the closer you get to becoming satisfied.
But then you realize that you’ll never be truly satisfied, and as Get Your Wish already discussed, achievement and glory only get you so far. So why make music? Why be creative? Why be artistic if it’s never gonna make you truly satisfied?
Because satisfaction would take away any motivation to be an artist.
“We climbed a mountain, are you satisfied? You stand at the top, you already wanna do this one more time.”
As the song explores one final, triumphant, introspective chorus, and Porter's beautiful vocal runs lift you high, the song does an amazing job of closing the album. The j-rock influence rings through the optimistic and uplifting glossy soundscapes, and you feel satisfied. The journey is over. You feel nurtured. You finally reach the conclusion. It’s an ode to the lack of satisfaction Nurture gave Porter, and that the realization that you will never be satisfied is beautiful. And as the instruments die out one final time, the conclusion is sung.
“But then somebody somewhere finds the warmth of summer in the songs you write, maybe it’s a gift that I couldn’t recognize?
Trying to feel alive.”
Nurture, is the long-awaited Sophomore LP from former DJ, now Singer-songwriter, Porter Robinson. Throughout the past 7 years, the artist has released barely any material due to a large struggle with creative depression, family illness, and anxiety. But now, as spring blooms, the largely anticipated album is here, with Porter claiming he’s out of his struggle and is happy with the music he’s written. Was it worth the wait?
Beautifully weaving together the gap between Pop anthems, orchestral instrumentals, experimental sound design, ambient pieces, and guitar ballads, the heartfelt LP ranges from soft, delicate, and beautiful to bombastic, epic, and triumphant.
From jazzy, J-pop-inspired songs like Get Your Wish to the artistic experimentation of Wind Tempos to the heart-wrenching chorus of Unfold, Robinson proves that he once again has the ability to write the songs he’s most proud of, and makes the listening experience a treat for the listener.
While sometimes the tracklist feels a little out of order, the album usually is held together by the way each track seamlessly, yet chaotically flows from one to another.
While the glitchy, confusing songs and the pitched voice may make this album seem boring, cheesy, or just plain bad to some, it's near impossible to deny that Nurture is a masterpiece, and one of the best electronic albums to have ever been written.
At this point, I can't judge this album properly.
I associate so many friendships, so much excitement, so many laughs and so much more with this album. This album brought me together with so many people and I can't thank it enough. So much has changed and I don't think my life would be as good as it is if this album didn't get announced when it did. The wait for this album was truly one of the most important events in my life so far.
But I also associate pain with this. And it hurts to think about some things that have happened in recent memory. Every song is filled with sadness to me that I may never be able to run away from.
I can't score this like a normal album, it's just impossible for me.
For that reason, I can't give this anything else but a 5/5. It's the only thing that makes sense. I can't view this thing properly. It means too much to me.