CR Blog

Farrow designs Format for PSB

Graphic Design

Posted by Gavin Lucas, 31 January 2012, 16:50    Permalink    Comments (19)

Farrow has designed Pet Shop Boys' forthcoming release, Format, a two-CD collection of b-sides and bonus tracks originally released between 1996 and 2009...

The colourful graphics on the lift-off lid card box represents the music contained within, as Mark Farrow explains: "The composition on the box is a graphic representation of all the spines of all 38 of the b-sides and bonus tracks included on the compilation.".

"Every stripe represents the spine of the original release format on which each of the songs was included," he continues, "whether it was a J card, pochette, cassette, DVD jewel box or 7 inch single. The colours are also informed by the original releases."

The graphics on the two inner CD sleeves represent the tracks on each disc. There is a also a booklet included in the box, not shown here. "The booklet contains a Jon Savage interview with Neil and Chris about the songs," says Farrow. "The booklet cover has the same type treatment as the box but features no graphics," he continues. "We deliberately kept it really simple, it is black and white throughout."

Format: B-sides and bonus tracks 1996-2009 by Pet Shop Boys is released next week on February 6. Label: EMI.



CR in Print

If you only read CR online, you're missing out. From the meaning of beans to the power of love, the February issue of Creative Review features our 20 favourite slogans of all time and the stories behind them.

What makes a great slogan? We investigate the enduring power of these clever little phrases in our special slogans issue, dedicated to our choices for the top 20 slogans.

If you would like to buy this issue and are based in the UK,you can search for your nearest stockist here. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 292 3703 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.


A Bertie Bassett autopsy?
2012-01-31 17:24:41

homage to Sean Scully?
2012-01-31 17:37:13

Am I supposed to be impressed?

This is just an overcharged cop out.
2012-02-01 09:22:21

Reminds me of liquorice all sorts, I really like it.
2012-02-01 09:23:03

'Bruce', how do you know it was 'overcharged'? Given the budget cuts in the music industry I sincerely doubt that anyone is 'overcharging' for artwork. And what exactly is a 'cop out' when it comes to an album sleeve?

By all means be critical but, as I've said before on here, too many times, comments that are just boorish, bitter or bitchy don't contribute anything to the debate and will not be posted.

CR PatrickBurgoyne
2012-02-01 09:59:00

A beautifully refined and crafted cover. Theres a great talk with Mark Farrow and Mike Dempsey on the RSI website:
2012-02-01 10:30:56


This was the expression on my face that I got, when I first saw the cover sleeve. What the ... For me, Mark Farrow *is* the keeper of the grail of Pet Shop Boys' design/photography over the last decades - he is somewhat the thrid Pet Shop Boy ... the other two only do the music ;-)

But beside uncountable design highlights from the era of Please, Actually and so forth, there remain some O.o experiences when it comes to cover sleeve design that somehow don't fit into the remaining PSB-related work of Mark: Introspective (except the Vinyl limited edition), Discography, Release and Ultimate for example. And Format fits in just there. Ok, the colors used resemble those found on the original sleeves of the tracks. But I did expect ... a bit ... more.

Well, at least the other two remaining Pet Shop Boys make reasonable music, so it is at least worth a bit, buying the records :-p

Mark, I am waiting for another stroke of genius like Very Relentless :)
2012-02-01 11:49:01


You're right...My apologies, my comment was a little brash.

I just felt that it was merely a plausible solution.
2012-02-01 13:09:03

Another beautiful PSB cover from Farrow.

If he/they can continually produce design like this, sell it to the client and get it "out there"... he deserves nothing but total respect.

2012-02-01 13:51:50

But why FORMAT, the title?
2012-02-01 14:27:35


Correction: from the list of Your mentioned albums, only Release´s artwork is NOT by Farrow, it´s by Visionaire Design, for a change.;)
2012-02-01 15:22:23

Great idea :)
2012-02-01 20:12:28

Alternative Format
2012-02-01 21:51:42

Sweet. Re: 'overpriced' comment, misinformed nonsense. We do work in the music industry and the budgets have been constantly slashed over the last 5 years. With this in mind I would be surprised if they broke even on it giving the amount of time I guess they spent on it. Could even be a lost leader to keep up their profile of producing great work for PSB.
2012-02-02 11:31:17


This was my expression when reading the suggestion that this doesn't fit in the Farrow/PSB oeuvre.

A fine piece of minimal art - the typography hints that we should consider it as such - and as eye-catching as hell.

The usual combination of arch-cool layout and hot brash colouring fits the PSB profile to perfection.
2012-02-02 13:23:40

Love it! I've enjoyed their album artwork, and this one works well too.
Did Pentagram have a hand in the 'Lego-Style' case for the album 'Very'?
2012-02-02 13:58:19

Great PSB design... in fact it's very PSB. Love it!
Gerard McGuickin
2012-02-02 21:48:21

@Herand: This is explained in the booklet, which features the interview, and I am kind enough to quote it here:

"Chris Lowe: We were driving, where was it? Scandinavia somewhere. We passed this sign, and we thought it would make a great title for something. Almost instantly, we thought, the b-sides album: all the different formats."
"Neil Tennant: It starts with cassette singles, and ends with digital downloads."

@Farrow: Awesome job, as always!
2012-02-03 17:58:31

Dear Gerard McGuickin, I agree. They often, without saying always, use a combination of colours on their albums. This one is very modern comparing to other ones. Great design!
2012-06-25 17:50:38

Tell us what you think

What happens with my feedback?

We no longer require you to register and have a password in order to comment, simply fill in the form below. All comments are moderated so you may experience a short delay before your comment appears. CR encourages comments to be short and to the point. As a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.

Get the RSS Feed