Continued from yesterdays post
The Decline of British Sea Power
This album makes my list as I feel it sums up the entire aesthetic of a band I love. British Sea Power are like no other band I’ve ever known, avoiding standard rock n roll iconography to in favour of their own images. The album artwork here is inspired by penguin paperbacks, and features silhouettes of leaves and a quote from an obscure novel (The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder). It carries over into their live shows as well which feature stuffed animals, foliage and chanting songs about the north atlantic ice shelf. I’m not American, I’ve never been to a milk bar, I don’t wear leather jackets and I don’t ride a motorbike. I have however had wet holidays in the lake district, been to second hand bookshops and lived next to a second world war museum. So an album which seems to be about these all these things and other british peculiarities, which is summed up by the literary inspired artwork earns a special place is something I can relate to.
Velvet underground and Nico
Heres another absolute classic that I really couldn’t not include. Although I think of it as probably the most overrated album of all time it does have some really fantastic cover art thanks to Andy Warhol. The cover is a great example of his bold pop art style, what I like best about it though is the interactivity. On the original vinyl release the banana was a sticker which you were invited to “peel slowly and see” and which revealed behind it a pink peeled banana, a fairly see through cock joke but funny anyway. another album cover which almost made the list but didnt as I decided it was too similar to this is the Rolling Stones, also designed by Andy Warhol but featuring a working zipper.
When The Man Machine was released it caused a fair bit of controversy over its use of constructivist imagery. Pioneered by the soviets and used exstensively in propaganda it led to some accusing Kraftwerk of fascist sympathies. This was of course stupid and got in the way of people seeing the cover as a really fantastic one which present the band like early communists setting out with a new brand of modernistic ideals. The uniform colours also evoke the dutch de Stijl movement, which adds to the association with modernisation and futurism.
Animal Collective-Merriweather Post Pavilion
I decided that to stop this being purely a list of old classics I’d also bring in one of my favourite recent album covers. Animal Collective love messing with your head and doing the unexpected and it continues with their album sleeves. Firstly it’s presented in a slightly unusual manner, with a outer casing featuring the optical illusion which unfolds at the back, to reveal another cd case inside which is mostly black with surreal coloursplashed photos of people swimming. It seems like a journey to get to the CD, or like a game of pass the parcel with the CD at the centre. The optical illusion artwork is also pretty inspired, its making me feel slightly nauseous just looking at it on my screen now. It works pretty well to describe the album, at once playful, childish and disturbing.