With great music comes great art— often, but not always. We have quite a few crossovers from our choices for Best Albums So Far to best album art (Father John Misty, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, just to name a few) with just as many surprise entries to keep us on our toes.
And keeping us on our toes is exactly what this collection does. While it is possible to discern some threads throughout, it’s easy to find something that defines the current state of great album art overall. Style ranges all over— from bare text (Drake), to cartoon-y illustration (The Mountain Goats), to surreal photography (Purity Ring).
Perhaps even more interesting this year is the contrast between quirky album covers like Snoop Dog’s Bush or the aesthetic Bones by Son Lux and the potent political commentary found behind the covers for Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Blur’s The Magic Whip. Both albums draw our attention to political unrest and protest. To Pimp a Butterfly is bursting with symbolism critiquing racism in the United States, while The Magic Whip brings us across the globe to reflect the uprising in Hong Kong (where the album was recorded): a clash between British, Chinese, and Hong Kong culture & politics.
In an age where album art is thought to be losing significance, finding beautiful covers with depth and substance sure is a breath of fresh air.