Review: Porter Robinson – nurture

Porter Robinson is an electronic pop musician, singer, DJ and musician who has been marking his mark in the music world since he was 12 years old. He’s had a few projects here and there from the Spitfire EP (in a one-time deal with Skrillex’s record label OWSLA) to his debut album Worlds. He stated that while making that album, he wanted to make it something true to him, differing from the typical EDM scene of the time by mainly channeling his own interests like video games, anime, and Vocaloids.

Following the Worlds album cycle came his most well-known single because of the influence of anime: “Shelter,” a collaboration with French DJ and producer Madeon. The music video was released on October 18, 2016 (the single was released 2 months earlier) and garnered much attention as it was animated by A-1 Pictures in a partnership between him and Crunchyroll. It also aired on Toonami around that time as well. As for the song itself, it’s a vibrant and atmospheric track that definitely sounds like an insert song you would hear in a Makoto Shinkai film.

However, he has suffered through depression ever since his debut and has struggled to make new music as well (along with his little brother having cancer and all), but he did announce his follow-up record last year and dropped a new single with “Get Your Wish,” but the album has a delay because of… well, you know at this point. He has released 5 more singles since the announcement, and now the album, titled nurture, is finally out.

After hearing this record… yeah, this is one very, very anime AF album.

The starting track “Lifelike” has a very tranquil slice-of-life anime vibe through the instrumentation with the soft piano, stuttering beat effects, and some violin added in. In fact, there’s a lot to say in regards to the instrumentation, and one example is that he took inspiration from Masakatsu Takagi, a Japanese composer known for doing music scores for Mamoru Hosada movies like Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, and Mirai, which explains the vibe in tracks like the instrumental “Wind Tempos”, which has this weird distorted ambient piano element in there. The second track “Look at the Sky” has a great hopeful sound especially with the message of having a brighter outlook of the future. In most days, life can be good even when things are about as grim as… well, how the last few months have been and for Porter, he’s no stranger to something like this.

To me, “Get Your Wish” is one of the best singles he’s released during this album cycle with its great electro-pop instrumentation, and if you’re wondering who’s doing the vocals on that song, it’s him. No, really, he’s singing through vocal effects in a higher pitch, and it’s pretty easy to be fooled by but he does it well on here. Another favorite song of mine on here is “Musician,” and it is an all-out infectious and catchy poppy banger all about his struggles and worries about his music.

But sincerely
Can’t you feel what I’m feeling?
I can see my life so clear—
I burn up, burn out
I shouldn’t do this to myself

But sincerely
Can’t you feel what I’m feeling?
I can see my life so clearly
And I know it doesn’t last
But I don’t mind at all anymore

The song also has a lot of samples from “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock to “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins with some uncredited vocal chops from Kero Kero Bonito. This has the making of a pop hit if by some miracle someone plays this on the radio.

I want to get some other elements out of the way because most of it does apply to the majority of this album, as it often hits a lot of emotional points with the quiet touches of songs like “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do” and “mother,” and with the latter, it’s definitely one that makes you want to show love for your parents if they’re still there in your life. Better yet, there’s “Sweet Time” where it’s all about being in love so much that you don’t want to lose each other, and while something like this could be sappy, this actually turned out to be a sweet and sentimental track.

However, for something abstract, experimental and challenging, the instrumental track “dullscythe” does achieve that in spades. It reminds me a little bit of Oneohtrix Point Never in tone but more angelic in its execution.

So take a long time
‘Cause, oh, the world is lucky to be your home, I know
I need a next life
‘Cause I’m not satisfied to know you just once
So take a long time
Oh, the world is lucky to be your home, I know
I need a next life
Not satisfied to know you just once

“Mirror” is all about looking yourself in a metaphorical mirror and being critical and harsh on yourself while the narrator in your mind gives you more hope and encouragement, confronting and facing your fears. The more I listen to this album, the more I get the themes of these songs like feeling you’re at a low creative point, wanting to love and cherish what you have before something happens, facing whatever fear you have in yourself or just pouring out your emotions everywhere. Hell, “Blossom” will make you shed a tear (and I’m pretty sure he did writing this), and “Unfold” has the only guest feature of the album by TEED (or Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs). The final track “Trying to Feel Alive” will make you feel things and ponder about yourself in many ways.

I know I said that this album sounds like something out of an anime but this goes far beyond. It got all the emotional aesthetics right and like one of the song titles, this is something comforting to listen to from all its highs to its lows (by lows, I don’t mean anything bad. I didn’t find much that bothered me.), and at a time where we’re getting close to the end of our year-long nightmare of CO-VID, this does provide some sweet serotonin for those that need it the most. Personally, this album has gotten me feeling everything all over the room from blissful, emotional, somber… everything, and I just love what I got from this. Porter Robinson just made a contender for Album of the Year for me, and while the year is still young, he’s absolutely up there.

FINAL VERDICT: Buy It. The album cover says it all. A nurturing comforting experience we can all use right now.

NURTURE is on Mom+Pop and is available on CD, vinyl, digital download and on streaming services.

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