Top 5 Album Sleeves of the Month: June
Here are our Top 5 shortlisted entries for June's Album Sleeves of the Month:
5. Woodstock - Portugal. The Man
Designed by: Josh Welch
Though Josh Welch's work focuses on commercial and editorial photography, he also does a fine job of capturing the world in stunning detail. Shots from his travels across the globe offer arresting glimpses into various cultural landscapes, communities, lifestyles and scenes of public commotion.
This shot for Portugal. The Man's eighth studio full-length Woodstock attempts to visualise their accustomed explosive sound in the literal form of a car on fire. It's fitting that one of Welch's specialities lies within commercial photography, because Woodstock's sound also feels like a move towards a more commercial identity that would make their quirky tendencies much more easily accessible. Alternatively, the festering flames on the car could be a reactionary symbol of protest that tie in with the record's underlying themes of political unrest.
Though they may have lost a few fans as a result of their sonic shift, they're stopping at nothing to make a statement.
4. Modern English Decoration - Ulrika Spacek
Designed by: Unknown
Guitarist Rhys Edwards explains: "Our records are not ‘jam’ records. We’re fans of collage based art, and create music in the same way". Produced, recorded, and mixed entirely in a former art gallery turned living space known as 'KEN', Modern English Decoration is testament to the band's considered vision and craftsmanship, in both their music and their artistic direction.
Where the 'DIY' element of their work-space would naturally render their labour somewhat negligent and lacking in professionalism, Ulrika Spacek seem to really profit off of the creative resourcefulness the environment provides. The record's artwork manifests their rustic aesthetic, through the use of monochrome textures and antique lettering; these sullen elements are a definite nod to the psychedelia of shoe-gaze alt-rock.
There's a physical energy present when listening to this record that helps transform it from a 10-track collection of songs into synesthesia-driven art project.
3. Melodrama - Lorde
Designed by: Sam McKinnis
Lorde's second studio full-length Melodrama fires on all cylinders, packing vibrant personality in both dance beats and soulful string orchestrations, despite much of the album dealing with bleak subject matter; feelings of loneliness and heartbreak dressed in peppy electro-pop enthusiasm.
The cover art was shot in artist McKinnis' friend's apartment and sought to capture a lot of the drama of the night time economy that the album is largely centred around: the ecstasy of falling in love, and the misery of falling out of it; the conviviality of evening activities; escapism in the form of social intoxication.
Lorde disclosed that "if a song's colours are too oppressive or ugly, sometimes I wont want to work on it". The synesthesia-palette that Lorde then commanded for McKinnis' painting put those lamentable aspects of the record into deep blue hues that provide a kind of calmness away from the dizzying politics of nightlife. Her body language is evocative of an introverted person, who finds comfort in staying safe within the confines of the sheets, afraid to venture out and become distressed with the theatrics of love and being in love - Melodrama is like the voice from the sheets.
2. A Place I'll Always Go - Palehound
Designed by: Ben Styer
Female-fronted indie-rockers Palehound recruited artist Ben Styer for their second studio full-length to paint with a zesty palette of bright colours and tones for this supermarket setting.
The association between indie-rock/alternative and melancholia is well documented, but Ellen Kempner's songwriting is playful and carefree, much like the colourful array of fruit and veg on show. It's an honest account of Kempner's frivolity in her day-to-day life, which is suggested through the youthful illustration and luminosity in even the most unexciting subject matter as groceries on supermarket shelves.
Peep the pair of eyes beneath the strange-looking blue fruit in the bottom right-hand corner.
1. Dada - B-Boys
Designed by: Brendan Avalos
Brendan Avalos' graphics for his band's second studio full-length Dada reeks of Matisse, taking further inspiration from English post-punk quartet Wire and their third studio album 154, released in 1979.
The random arrangement of geometric shapes and use of energetic block colours capture their playful arrangement of sounds, inspired by the likes of Wire, Gang of Four, Devo, and Magazine, with a splash of Parquet Courts - all of which manifest post-punk and art rock sentiments in their music and coincidentally also play around with expressive record designs.
The design is incredibly minimalistic, bordering on surrealist through the use of the clock and human figure. With a name like B-Boys, you don't expect to be met with these strident riffs and hooks that the record is embellished in. The record's artwork also does a good job of juxtaposing those cheery colours with the band's raucous, punk edge sound.