TAO's Top 15 Album Sleeves of the Year 2016
Having sifted through over 600 decorated and meticulously crafted album sleeves, we have shortlisted our Top 15 from 2016:
15. British Road Movies - Kate Jackson
Designed by: Kate Jackson
The phrase 'If you want something done right, you do it yourself' speaks volumes on this record as Kate Jackson, singer-songwriter turned urban landscape artist, paints this beautiful composition depicting the mundane architecture of British motorways. "The Flyover", as this piece is titled, earned her a nomination for 'Best Art Vinyl 2016' by Art Vinyl. Jackson, originally from "picturesque" Suffolk, speaks of her preferred interests in illustrating humdrum objects like bus shelters as opposed to more obvious structures like Cathedrals.
14. IV - Black Mountain
Designed by: Jeremy Schmidt
Keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt channels his inner Magritte on this mysterious collage featuring Concorde, a flaming plinth, a girl playing and a man in a motorcycle helmet. Like the music itself, an upbeat synthetic Black Sabbath meets Electric Wizard, the album cover surrounds what one can only imagine as some sort of hazy drug fuelled episode from the 1970's.
13. All Wet - Mr. Oizo
Designed by: Quentin Dupieux
Into his sixth studio album, Mr. Oizo, AKA French film director Quentin Dupieux, recoups his musical anonymity with this stylish sleeve design bound to make you curious. And it works. The low-fi pup you see is actually the puppet character from Levi's early TV adverts, a symbol Dupieux uses extensively at the forefront for his branding and identity.
12. Summer '08 - Metronomy
Designed by: Charlotte Delarue
Its hard to diagnose if it's the warm glow, the beautiful attention to detail or just the colour composition itself that resonates a wealth of charm - or maybe it's all three. But whatever it is, it has me hooked. We're usually accustomed to Delarue's detailed sketch work but its clear to see she has a talent for typographical design.
11. The Dream Is Over - PUP
Designed by: Christopher McKenney
Almost an archetype of the misery and heartache 2016 has bestowed upon the world. Despite the raging fire, the individual remains more distracted by the news. A fitting representation of a calamitous year.
10. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung - Ryley Walker
Designed by: Brian Blomerth
Remove yourself for an hour or two and transport to this romantic lakeside setting one can only dream about. Blomerth's querky and often crude comics, most commonly associated with dogs (as his website "pupsintrouble.tumblr.com" would suggest), takes a backseat this time around, while his obsession with exaggerated tones and textures are still heavily sustained on this album jacket.
9. Plaza - Quilt
Designed by: Ken Price
Quilt's third album reaches into an archive of unreleased demos, likewise the cover art: an untitled painting by the late LA contemporary artist, Kenneth Price. Though not a direct commission, this piece appropriately demonstrates their decision to revisit old material. The almost empty space is not quite abandoned, but revisited, hence the chair that still remains.
8. A Weird Exits - Thee Oh Sees
Designed by: Robert Beatty
San Francisco garage rockers seem to have hit a purple patch this year with double releases A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances. The respected albums enclose a huge session of punchy guitar sounds, reminiscent of 60's rockers The Beatles and Pink Floyd, which evidently translate onto both sleeve designs. And in similar fashion, the now three piece band have swapped their traditional rock and roll roots for something a little more cosmic.
7. No Grace - Paws
Designed by: Erin McGrath
Contrary to the title of this record, all 6 pictures paint a kind of elegant contrast between life and death; the bright-white existence of the sun overshadowing darkened gravestones; the sprouting of the football-pitch turf; the steady decay from heat on supple candle wax. Even the last image of the woman decorating her walls with framed artwork to bring life to an empty room. Essentially, the epitome of making a house a home. In that sense, then, it's warming, what with the friendly cat to add to its cosy feel.
6. Physicalist - Forma
Designed by: Robert Beatty
Encased in gold framing and thoroughly inviting, Beatty's weird and wonderful imagination pours out yet again on another musical canvas. Known for his work with Australian rock outfit Tame Impala, Beatty invokes utopian landscapes and other oddly pleasing arrangements comparable to the work of Salvador Dali.
5. Awaken, My Love! - Childish Gambino
Designed by: Ibra Ake
With a title like Awaken, My Love!, there's a whole plethora of concepts you could conjure up, but I truly believe the NYC based photographer hit the nail on the head. A god-like figure, dressed in electric blue tribal headwear, paints a haunting scene enough to leave you concerned for the subjects well-being. She looks... content?
4. The Midnight Sun - C Duncan
Designed by: C Duncan
A peaceful entry from the Scottish musician sees him take another stab at architectural design, akin to his previous album, ironically titled Architect. By no means is this cover innovative, but the subtle light hitting the staircase and the elegant line-work has a certain charm about it.
3. Human Performance - Parquet Courts
Designed by: Andrew Savage
A concept so new and original, Parquet Courts' very own Andrew Savage turns their latest LP into a story book of illustrations which takes us through the journey behind the writing process. Savage, an art graduate from the University of Texas, says he is heavily influenced by synaesthesia, which is felt in both the song and visual interpretation of "Berlin Got Blurry". Bold in colour and consistent in style, this musical novel is a huge stepping stone in the emergence of art and music.
2. Boy King - Wild Beasts
Designed by: ILOVEDUST
Brighton based graphic designers ILOVEDUST thought they hid their involvement on this album pretty well, but it's hard not to recognise their incredible attention to detail and fondness for retro 80's lettering. They're not just responsible for this particular album sleeve, but the packaging and other releases that followed suit which make for a glorious display of hues and gradients.
1. Schmilco - Wilco
Designed by: Joan Cornellà
Taking top spot is undoubtable the most creative album sleeves of 2016, delivered expertely by famous comic strip illustrator, Joan Cornellà. Renown for his witty and somewhat hilariously bizarre cartoon scenes, Cornellà sees the first of his works ever to feature on the cover of a record. Though we'll never quite know what's going through his head, what we do know is that he'll never fail to make us laugh.