It figures that if the artist is such a beautiful woman, you might want to stick her portrait on the cover of her album. Angelique Kidjo - Djin Djin sports a tastefully shot, perfectly cropped picture of the four-time Grammy nominated Beninese singer songwriter. It is augmented with a clever butterfly motif consisting of two mirrored silhouettes of the African continent, with name and album cover in Carter & Cone’s Big Caslon.
Björk - Volta apparently marks a return to the CGI days of Post and Homogenic. Yet what looks like a heavily manipulated computer generated image of Björk is in fact the singer ‘wearing’ a sculpture by Bernhard Willhelm. As usual, the type – conspicuously absent on the front – is a custom designed font; this time a constructivist geometric affair.
Travis is one of the few bands that has successfully adopted a ‘corporate style’ for its album covers. Travis - The Boy With No Name is a logical continuation of the two previous covers: an image with subdued earthy colours which has the band members quite small, almost lost in the scenery, and flush left all caps typography in ITC Avant Garde Gothic w/ Alternates. It works, although I can imagine it might become quite boring by the fourth or fifth variation. Also ITC Avant Garde Gothic is so overused… A beautiful contemporary alternative (in feature-rich OpenType format!) with similar alternate characters and cap ligatures is Peter Bil'ak’s Fedra Display.
Battles - Mirrored uses a very simple yet visually striking idea for its cover; a literal interpretation of the album title. The vertical type in all caps Avenir is tasteful, but its positioning is a bit unfortunate because it’s not visible when skimming through CDs in the racks. Yeah, I know, I’m nit-picky, but I speak from experience.
The posthumous Ellioth Smith - New Moon features a beautiful, poetic collage on its cover. I especially like the little strips of type used for the sun and the buildings. They remind me of both the insane posterCum* designed for FontShop and the neat papier maché sculptures my colleague makes, using the pages of old dictionaries. The lettering is hand cut – duh – but FontShop has some readymade alternatives, with FF Cutout being one of the better known.
I’m still waiting to see an example of well-used Belwe. I know, it’s a tough one because that is one tired old face, but hey, who knows? On the cover of Funeral For A Friend - Tales Don’t Tell Themselves it has been aged successfully, but that’s just about all there is to say.
And I thought Acid Jazz and its associated graphic style were a thing of the past decade. James Taylor’s 4th Dimension - Picking Up Where We Left Off does exactly what it says on the cover: it revisits the typical iconography and orange-yellow-olive- brown colour scheme of the groovy first half of the nineties, which itself was an interpretation of the mod style of the sixties. Post-Modernism to the nth power as it were. I really like the double-line squarish sans, but I wouldn’t know where to start looking for it.
Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight sports some customised Futura Extra Bold on its cover. The logo and image both look very retro-seventies, and the extension of the leg of the R looks a bit off, as if it widens towards the end. It all looks too much style over content to me.
I’m getting this really bizarre vibe from the album cover for Pink Martini - Hey Eugene. Due to the campy setting, the poor image quality, the cramped pose of the model and the forced smile on her face, the cover image exudes a sleazy atmosphere, as if this were some sanitised porn pic. The band name and album title in respectively Poster Bodoni and Clarendon perfectly match the hairdo.
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky proves that sometimes all you need is a simple, dramatic image. The bird of prey attacking a flock of birds creates a fascinating texture in black and white. It’s a shame the round sticker with the type is such a bad match, and proves to be very disruptive. I know, it can be removed, but if I were the designer of this piece I’d rather have control over where the type goes. The image would’ve been better served with some discreet type strategically positioned on the image itself.
Another cover playing with light and shadows is The National - Boxer. The band recreate the atmosphere of dances in the fifties/sixties. By virtually dividing the cover in two and isolating the type in the black half, both the type and the scene get extra attention.
Heh… Hehehe… Hahahahaha hahaha! WAAAAAAHAHA HAHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHAH HAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA! WOOOOO HOO HOO HOO HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! HAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAH HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HO HO HO HO HO HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Heh heh heh… <snicker> Heh… R. Kelly - Double Up… What a pompous twat.
Whoever designed Richard Thompson - Sweet Warrior seems to be stuck in the eighties. Agreed, the kid with the toy armour and painted on moustache is kinda cute, but the cover is hardly exciting. The typography in Bank Gothic and Marmalade, a Bickley-ish script, is adequate yet predictable.
And to finish this extra long episode, an efficient cover for The Pigeon Detectives - Wait For Me. The simplified colour scheme, reduced to white, red and black (the only acceptable colours yadda yadda ;) make the two duelling deers on the plain white background look like plastic toys. And yet again it’s ITC Avant Garde Gothic for the type…
Yet another variation on The Cries' B&W-Dust-Bowl-era-couple-holding-hands shot is 1981's "Pirates" from Rickie Lee Jones.
02.06.2007 - 02.44.21
Posted by Marc Oxborrow
"On the cover for The Cribs - Men?s Needs, Women?s Needs, Whatever the band name set in Clarendon is cleverly integrated as a neon sign on the building in the background."
Just too bad the album's title was added 30 seconds before the files were sent to the printer... YUCK!!!