December 20, 2008

2008: Album Covers Of The Year

In a dire year for album covers, there were little to choose from. Madonna, Sugababes, and Girls Aloud all produced horrible cover images for their records. Alison Goldfrapp dressed up as Mary Kate Olson in pirate gear, while Uh Huh Her didn't even bother.

Here are a few that actually caught my eye and earned a second glance:

My favorite sleeve of the year was for a random hits collection by John Foxx. Everything is right about this, most notably the beautiful silhouette of Foxx's face and his Hedi Slimane-esque scrawny frame. Mert and Marcus could not have shot it better. For the curious, Foxx was the original lead singer for Ultravox and, at 61, he still looks good today.

Vincent Frank is THE voice to listen for in 2009 and his artwork is equally stirring; it took me ages to actually see his face in this collage. This EP has the most beautiful packaging of the year. To utter a phrase said so many times before, I'd love it more in 12".

You have to love Fleet Foxes, a Seattle band, for bringing the Netherlands to the Stereogum crowd. When I first saw this, I thought, "Bruegelish." But it IS Bruegel and there's a whole short story going on in the image. The band themselves are scraggly enough to be transplants from the 1500's.

I admire Solange for her off-center efforts with this album's sound and artwork. She must have been seriously baked throughout the proceedings. But I mean that in the nicest way.

I am not the first person to notice that M83's album, which should be called The Breakfast Club, features what looks like the cast of a John Hughes movie. My own archetype is not really represented here, as I was the Dweeb in Docksiders.

I love this image because it's actually a metaphor for the highwire act Take That balances, caught between being a nostalgia act and producing new music that advances them beyond their pervy-tween roots. Aside from that, it's just aesthetically pleasing and wee Mark Owen provides the necessary subliminal question about receding hairlines.

Mystery Jets, provocative and pretty.

Cyndi Lauper harkens back to her debut album, but with more expensive shoes.

None of these touch the genius covers for 2007. Let's hope for better next year.


Dan said...

Do you know what Bruegel painting that is? I know it, but can't seem to place it! My favorite painting of his is the gruesome Triumph of Death.

You are correct, a bad year for album covers. And Madonna's album cover was just the icing on the cake for what amounted to be a very disappointing year for her all around (tour notwithstanding.)

Brad said...

The 2007 round-up made me yearn for more...I truly predict '09 may see some imagery gold.

You know what I just realized? Even our glamour goddess Miss Jones failed to deliver on her latest outing. Sure, it's somewhat clever, but it's the promos from magazine shoots that are truly jaw-dropping.

Yuяi said...

Ali G as pirate Mary Kate! LOL ... that's a good one. She made my list, I guess, due to Seventh Tree's brilliance.

Totally agree about the Breakfast Clubbiness of M83's cover. Good stuff there.

countpopula said...

Didn't you get the memo that album cover art doesn't matter anymore? No wonder it was pretty darn shiteous this year. Do artists even care anymore? Do the public care? Somewhere there is a 5th grader photoshopping the latest U2 artwork.

Seriously, they can do better, and we all deserve better, but why should they make an effort if a large section of their audience do not pay for quality? At some point, the boredom of downloading begins to take hold...

countpopula said...

Forgot to say that I like your choices, and I would also have to add the Goldfrapp just because of it's rather soft yet seductive tone. The campaign on the inner sleeve is also quite provocative.

Mary Kate is one hot babe!

xolondon said...

Count, I love the Goldfrapp artwork in general. LOVE it. But the cover was not the best image, IMO. Some of the single covers were much better. They always do something unique and atmospheric.

Same goes for Grace Jones. Totally clever concept but the actual image did not work because it looked like a beheaded man. The artwork inside is good and I have an upcoming post on that - am saving it for early January.

jt said...

Frankmuzik's I love. I also enjoyed Alanis' album cover - it was definitely more understated than past efforts.

Totally love Goldfrapp, but agree that the minstrel-esque artwork of this project was not my cup of tea.

Adem With An E said...

Great choices Mister. My only gripe with the Take That cover is that my Gary Barlow looks incredibly sunburnt in it. Even in his inlay solo picture; very burnt!

Joseph said...

Wait, are you saying you don't like the Seventh Tree cover? I think it's gorgeous.

LOVE the Frankmusik cover but I am so tired of any font that looks even remotely like that, and it looks so out of place on an otherwise interesting and elegant design.

Mr. Will-W. said...

Oh God. That owl drawing in the "Seventh Tree" booklet still gives me nightmares.

I love the Frankmusik cover; I am v. excited to hear his album and can just imagine how awesome the artwork will be for that!

I think Girls Aloud managed to downgrade even further with the single cover for "The Loving Kind". Can you say, Microsoft Word Clip Art?

My pick for best cover of '08 is Kylie's "X", even though technically it may or may not be a 2008 depending which release date you go by. Love the "Ladyhawke" cover too!

Happy holidays to you, XO. Please keep up the fab-o work and dedication you put into all of this. Love love love.