This article was first published online on the CR Blog. Read it and the ensuing discussion here.
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Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce cut several minutes off his album Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space just so that the running time looked better typographically on the packaging. His partnership with designer Mark Farrow has produced some of the finest sleeve design of recent times. CR interviewed the pair of them on the eve of the release of Spiritualized’s new album
Borders bookshop has a “Real Lives” section. Waterstones ups the ante with “Painful Lives”. Amazon’s catch-all is the more enigmatic “True Endurance and Survival”. But earlier this week I found myself in the “Tragic Life Stories” aisle of WHSmiths. After taking in that, yes, a whole section of shelving had actually been given over to this subject, it struck me that while each book pertained to be a traumatic tale of an individual, they were marketed in such a way as to look entirely the same. Unlike the covers within the nearby Crime section, where even the most conventional might feature a gun, a knife, or something vaguely noir-ish; within Tragic Life Stories there is, apparently, no need to differentiate details. Each one is a tragic tale; each one has the same cover: a child’s face and a scrawled, handwritten title.