You’d expect album art to start falling by the wayside now we generally see it as a tiny image on iTunes – or even smaller on your iPod. Might as well just have the artist and title in massive caps so there’s no confusion, and no unnecessary expense. But thankfully everyone’s still big on huge follies and each year offers up pocket artwork to match the totally needless five extra tracks artists and record companies are throwing cash at.
All hail ambitious covers! Although maybe not that Death Grips one. Mind you, that’s a sure demonstration of album artwork’s enduring power. Here are five slightly more SFW subjective favourites from 2012. What are yours?
1Bat For Lashes – ‘The Haunted Man’
There’s been a lot of flesh on display this year, from – yep – that Death Grips one to Rihanna’s well-placed graffiti to Christina Aguilera emerging from a cloud in the buff to Martha Wainwright sweating a rainbow. Natasha Khan has a concept though; she’s baring her soul and supporting her man on his return from war, and it’s striking rather than titillating. It is.
2David Byrne & St Vincent – ‘Love This Giant’
An avant-garde sleeve for an avant-garde pairing. They’ve got lumps in their faces. It’s a bit Lady Gaga, ‘Born This Way’, but also reminiscent of Hipgnosis’s classic, weird covers of the 70s and 80s. One for a double-take.
3Saint Etienne – ‘Words And Music’
This one’ll never work at 180×180 pixels. You need to spend hours spotting all the song references and then checking that you’re smarter than your friends. It’s an apt choice for pop archivists Saint Etienne.
4Flying Lotus – ‘Until The Quiet Comes’
Steven Ellison’s fourth album comes with a cover straight out of the 4AD closet of obscure, unsettling imagery (even though it’s on Warp). With art direction by Stephen Serrato, using a shot by Irish photographer B+, it’s a twisting, flowering design that expresses the mystery and adventure of the music, man.
5Beach House – ‘Bloom’
This feels like the inside of the suicide ship in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. To me, anyway. Clean, quiet, unknowably terrifying. It’s probably meant to be calming. The beauty then, is you can take what you want from it.
Let us know your favourite album artwork of 2012 and we’ll choose the best for a gallery. You can’t have the Two Door Cinema Club one.