Farrow designs Format for PSB

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…

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.



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  • A Bertie Bassett autopsy?

  • Hywel

    homage to Sean Scully?

  • bruce

    Am I supposed to be impressed?

    This is just an overcharged cop out.

  • Reminds me of liquorice all sorts, I really like it.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    ‘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.

  • Thomas

    A beautifully refined and crafted cover. Theres a great talk with Mark Farrow and Mike Dempsey on the RSI website:


  • edehner49


    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 :)

  • bruce


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

    I just felt that it was merely a plausible solution.

  • 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.


  • Herand

    But why FORMAT, the title?

  • mindboy


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

  • hiccupheiki

    Great idea :)

  • Trevo

    Alternative Format

  • >Lil_Pete

    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.

  • O.o

    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.

  • 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’?

  • Great PSB design… in fact it’s very PSB. Love it!

  • Dimitri

    @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!

  • 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!