To be seen as well as heard
Creating a list of this years best (in my opinion) sleeves has been a real joy, although we worked on a few that we’re really proud of at DR.ME I decided to discount them so as to be objective. It should be noted that the listing is not in any kind of list of preference, these are the ten best and are therefore equally great for varying reasons.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Designer – Caroline Robert
For an album that was to be received on such a large platform as Reflektor, it’s refreshing to see the act stay with a very alternative visual campaign and allow Caroline Robert to create such interesting artwork to follow on beautifully from the Suburbs artwork that she made for the band’s previous long player.
David Bowie – The Next Day
Designer – Jonathan Barnbrook
I think that this is one of the most daring record sleeves released this year. Having seen a talk by Jonathan Barnbrook about his collaboration with Bowie on the sleeve it is the perfect example of musician and designer working together that I have seen design wise for quite sometime.
Darkside – Psychic
Designer – Jed DeMoss / Matt De Jong
This is easily one of my favourite records this year and so for the sleeve to live up to this is no mean feat. The artwork really speaks to the tone of the record suggesting that Jed DeMoss has paid a great deal of attention to how this beautifully crafted record should be visually represented by his wonderful photograph.
Oneohtrixpointnever – R Plus Seven
Designer – Robert Beatty
So much love for this sleeve, very much like the record itself, it creates deep pools of uncertainty and discomfort by the artist Beatty.
Dirty Beaches – Drifters / Love is Hell
Designer – Shubhayan Roy
I really hate images of the artist being used on the sleeve of a record, it’s lazy, with this in mind it makes this record sleeve even more impressive as it features a beautifully shot image of Alex Zhang Hungtai with lights cast wonderfully across him.
Finis Africae – A Last Discovery
Designer – Unknown
One of those sleeves that reminds me of going into record shops when I was a kid and buying records just because I loved the sleeve art, I came by a lot of crap this way. This sleeve has a beautifully aged quality to the artwork even though it was created for this record’s release it feels like it could’ve popped up on a record from the 80’s.
Forest Swords – Engravings
Designer – Matthew Barnes
I love this sleeve, I think it’s just wonderful, if money was no object I would love to see the gold actually foiled on but even just the suggestion of the colouring makes it such a visual triumph. The fact that a limited number came with a zine of Barnes’ photography only adds weight to this wonderful bit of packaging
Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live
Designer Andy Gilmore
Now, here is a record sleeve that needs to be seen (in the flesh) to be believed, created by the brilliant Andy Gilmore this is one of two sleeves that comes in a die cut outer sleeve allowing for the varying designs to show through depending on how you put the inner sleeve back in. A wonderfully complex thing of beauty.
Huerco S – Colonial Patterns
Designer – Matt Craven / Bobby Houlihan
This is another record that needs to be seen in the flesh, really stunning design and artwork throughout the packaging, a real visual thrill.
Jar Moff – Financial Glam
Designer – Bill Kouligas / Kathryn Politis
A top ten of this years record sleeves would not be complete without an inclusion of a Pan release. As ever the stunning artwork and design has been put together by label boss Bill Kouligas, always such a visual joy seeing Bill’s approach to his label’s output especially when you see them in reality and realise that the yellow is actually screenprinted onto a transparent plastic disco bag that encases the sleeve.