As with book covers and movie posters, album covers offer artists another chance to creatively distill the mood, tone, theme, or story of their work in a single image. While most movie posters, and certain book covers, skip this artistic opportunity in favour of marketing ploys, albums covers often remain an unadulterated expression of either the album or the artist themselves. Of course there are exceptions, especially in the mass-produced manufactured pop genre, but there are many artists still doing it right. Here are some of our favourites.
Icelandic singer Bjork’s music is ethereal, emotional, and orchestrally epic. Listening to a Bjork song is like floating through space in a dream, which is perfectly depicted in the art work for her 2011 album Biophilia. Shiny, otherworldly, wild, and romantic, this art immediately grabbed my attention and made me even more excited to listen to Bjork’s new music. It’s not really clear what is happening in this image, but as with her songs, you know you like it, whatever it is.
I had never seen this album until passing by a record shop in New York. His first solo album after leaving Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young is in many ways a perfect transition (in retrospect, of course) from his work in the 60s to what he would eventually go on to create. The cover is a perfect representation of the mood and feel of the album. From the moody ‘The Loner’ and ‘The Old Laughing Lady’ to the oddly funny ‘Last Trip to Tulsa,’ the album art (by Roland Diehl) captures the dicothomy between rock and folk/country music.
Jimi Hendrix will always be associated with fire. His most well-known on-stage moment was setting his guitar on fire at the end of set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. One of his band’s most well-known hits is titled ‘Fire.’ There are also more obvious social connections. But the cover of the Experience’s last studio album captures Jimi on fire in the most perfect way, conveying everything from Hendrix’s fiery passion to the static electricity that ignited his soul when he performed.