When your favourite artist drops their latest album, quite rightly you just can’t wait to get into the music. Beyond that, to some, the rest of the album is just packaging. In some cases, that’s quite the right attitude to have – after all, there’s some pretty shoddy album art out there. However, to ignore the relevancy of album artwork is to dismissively consign the likes of the Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon, and London Calling sleeves to the side of your record player without a second glance. We’d argue that that kind of behaviour is simply criminal. Album artwork has thrown up some of the most important and impressive artworks of all time. Many of which have become iconic cultural symbols in their own right. Last year was a bumper year for genuinely excellent cover work. So, without further ado, here are our favourite album artworks of 2017.
1. The National: Sleep Well Beast
Sleep Well Beast is the 7th studio album by American indie rock outfit The National, and its cover features first in our list of favourite album artworks of 2017. This gorgeous shot, taken by Graham MacIndoe, of The National guitarist Aaron Dessner’s New York barn/recording studio is utterly captivating. British design firms Pentagram over saw the album’s art direction and have produced a great overall visual product – which was rewarded with a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Recording Package’. See the cover in all its glory here.
2. Father John Misty: Pure Comedy
Edward Steed, celebrated cartoonist for The New Yorker, is the artist responsible for this most arresting of album covers. Resembling a grown-up ‘Where’s Wally’ scene, this cover is a morass of zany, satirical depictions of myriad modern life situations. Every time you look at this sleeve you’ll see something new, and it’ll delight you each time. See the cover in all its glory here.
3. Lorde: Melodrama
“Nighttime attitudes” was the given definition for the theme and stylistic tones of Lorde’s 2017 album, Melodrama. This informs the content of the album, and the spirit of the “nighttime attitudes” sentiment is equally encapsulated by the artwork. The album cover is the work of the artist Sam McKinniss. His intimate, blue-lit portrait of a sleepless Lorde is the perfect visual accompaniment to the music. See the cover in all its glory here.
4. Tyler, the Creator: Flower Boy
Tyler, The Creator’s album Flower Boy was officially released with two covers; one the work of the rapper himself, the other a piece by the artist Eric White. It is the latter example which makes our list. The peach sky, rolling hills, giant bumblebees that obscure the artist’s face and distant sports car all combine to create a startling image that asks more questions that it attempts to answer. All that does is make us want to listen to the record more – surely, the highest praise any album art can receive. See the cover in all its glory here.
5. Logic: Everybody
Sam Spratt’s dense, overwhelming artwork for Logic’s album, Everybody, has drawn praise as a modern Sgt. Pepper. Inspired by Paolo Veronese’s 1563 masterpiece The Wedding Feast at Cana, Spratt’s work is a barrage of cultural references and figures with some connection to Logic. Of all our favourite album artworks of 2017, this is perhaps the most ambitious, and it pulls it off. See the cover in all its glory here.
We can’t wait to see what great album artworks 2018 inspires – after the album artworks of 2017, it has a lot to live up to. We hope to see the standard of album artworks growing from strength to strength, with musicians and artists taking more and more risks.
Also published on Medium.