Top 5 Album Sleeves of the Month: July
5. Horse of the Other World - See Through Dresses
Designed by: Nicholas Stahl
Stahl's approach for See Through Dresses second full-length bares a strong resemblance to Joy Division's 1979 classic Unknown Pleasures, with the design centre-front almost like a more modern-day take on Peter Saville's iconic radio wave design.
Coincidentally, the band also adopt an ethereal, gothic rock persona similar to the Salford outfit, and it helps that their visual accompaniment endorse a similarly mysterious linear-art pattern. And while the monochromatic image alone is unexciting, it seems to act deliberately as a veil for the band themselves who, like most shoe-gazers, want to experiment with curious, cloak-and-dagger auras to enhance their mystique.
4. Good - The Stevens
Designed by: Travis MacDonald
MacDonald's slapdash acrylic coat on the Good sleeve is evocative of The Stevens' ragged indie-rock sentiment. The playful mix of lo-fi gaiety and cheer and infectious hooks, captured through childlike brush strokes in bold colours, is testament to the band's musical style born out of their bedroom-rock guise in Melbourne.
The band's singer/guitarist-turned artist Travis MacDonald has put his artistic stamp on the band's records prior to this, including The Stevens EP (2013), and A History of Hygiene (2013), the band's first full-length. Each design gives you a rough flavour of the kind of temperament the band adopted from record to record; from the dreary demeanour on the debut effort (using murky turquoise and grey tones), right through to their current project that leans on vibrant purple and gold for a more uplifting sound.
3. God First - Mr. Jukes
Designed by: Mason London
The debut album from Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman, under the pseudonym "Mr Jukes", God First is a loose exploration into funk, electronic beats and soul influences. The cover illustration for the record displays an invisible musician in a visibly-pink suit, presumably the mysterious Mr. Jukes, jazzing up the 'God First Beauty Salon' on Balls Pond Road, Islington.
The store-front - located near Dalston Kingsland Rail Station - may not be the most glamorous, but the playful type-font adds a certain charm to London's typically drab high-street architecture. Mason London's illustrative style is also instantly recognisable through the use of washy textures and earthy tones, which compliments Steadman's mellow orchestration on this record incredibly well.
2. Heatwave - Trapped Under Ice
Designed by: Alexis Gross
Heatwave is a short and cherry-sweet, 12-and-a-half-minutes of punchy hardcore thrust from the boys of Baltimore. Note: if their abrasive sound isn't enough to pull you in, then allow the seductive photography to do it instead. Frontman Justice Tripp remarked the cover shot as reminiscent of a hot and stressful - but fun - summer.
It's a juxtaposition if anything: the abundance of harsh hooks and thick distortion assigned to the band's musical guise, conflicting with a softer semblance of a pair of cherries between plump lips for the record's visual element. It's a concept that has worked well for metal bands in the past. See Helmet's Betty (1994) or Melvins' Bullhead (1991) for reference.
1. Content - Joywave
Designed by: Alex Trochut
Award-winning Spanish artist and typographer Alex Trochut took the reigns for Joywave's second studio album. Brimming with electro-pop synths and vibrant indie-rock, Content is a feel-good record from start to finish.
Trochut's canvas channels the digital conception of the record into a kaleidoscopic display of randomly arranged letters. An instant head-turner, Content grabs both art enthusiasts and indie-rockers alike by the collar. Two versions of this sleeve were printed: one with multi-coloured letters, one without. But we think the version above is a much better representation of the sort of musical dynamics Joywave have to offer on this record.