There are album covers that add something — tone, hue, context — to the listening experience. There are album covers that are just great to look at. There are great albums with ‘meh’ album covers. The opposite is mostly likely also true. Anyway, below are album artworks which I think are cool or great, and album covers which are not.
Headtrip in Every Key, Superdrag. Nevermind the apparent lack of self-awareness on the band’s part. Though it may not guarantee a head-trip in every key, I could guarantee that this is a good power-pop/rock record. What makes this cover great? Maybe it’s the photography. The lighting. I dunno, probably a good example of a “cheesecake” album cover done right?
Derby Light, Cambio. Like Sugarfree’s Dramachine, which Ebe Dancel stole from his bandmates so he could use it later, Derby Light (short for “let derby light”) was probably one of names suggested for the band, before they settled with Cambio. What’s on the cover? Demolition derby, probably by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre.
Album Na Walang Pamagat, The Youth. Why is it great? Although the image itself is rendered inconsistently when applied to cassette tapes, compact discs, and vinyl (just recently), its use of the Droste effect is nonetheless clever, and the album title (if you can consider it that) is something like Magritte.
Rhomboids, Monsterbot. Basic, simple, clean. But it works — it fits. The artwork on this sophomore outing from Monsterbot provides a serene backdrop to the noisy orgy of guitars and keyboards that the compact disc provides. You don’t know Monsterbot? Imagine Eggboy (a.k.a. Diego Mapa) in a full band setup. You don’t know Eggboy? Here you go.
Charli, Charli XCX. If this Charli XCX album features middle-aged jazz instrumentalists on the front cover instead of her, that would probably be a perfect example of the “reverse-cheesecake” album cover. What makes it great? What do you mean “What makes it great”?
Here are the ones that are meh.
Probably Not But Most Definitely, Imago. All of their albums covers are on the meh side. Maybe Take 2 has the best cover art, maybe Effect Desired None. Wait, Blush has two versions and I think the second version is a lot better than the first. Between PNBMD and the digipak version of Blush? Maybe Blush (digipak) is worse. But I wanted to include good/great albums with kinda meh album covers, so PNBMD makes the list.
Human Performance, Parquet Courts. Both Content Nausea and Sunbathing Animal have great covers. Light Up Gold‘s is good too. So, this is quite a let down.
The Colour and the Shape, Foo Fighters. Great record. Cover art? Not bad, but… If I remember correctly, Dave Grohl’s then-wife provided the photo on the cover of their debut. But by the time they recorded this one, Grohl was already dating Louise Post of Veruca Salt, who’s rumored to have been the inspiration behind the song “Everlong.” Too bad that inspiration didn’t seem to extend to the album cover.
Self Titled, Itchyworms. I’m not sure if looking kind of bad is exactly the point, but this looks really kind of bad. Another concept album of sorts, about music and band image being sold as commodities — ideas which maybe weren’t so novel anymore at the time. I mean, a movie about zombies going to malls has been around since the ’80s. Also, there’s We’re Only In It For The Money, the album cover of which, doesn’t look as bad and uninspired as this.
Carbon Stereoxide, Eraserheads. Every artist has that one album. Not a ‘meh’ album, just ‘meh’ album cover — at least when compared to their other albums. Or maybe I just don’t get it.