Record sleeves of 2016

A look back at our favourite album art of the year

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Record sleeves of the year #01: David Bowie, ★

News of David Bowie’s death on January 10 2016 shocked the world. Just two days earlier, the musician had turned 69 and released his 25th studio album, Blackstar. The album has since been interpreted as a parting gift from a musician who knew it would be his last. Fans have pointed to clues in the […]

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Record sleeves of the year #02: Solange, A Seat at the Table

Solange Knowles has described her third album as “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing”. It’s both an intensely personal record and a reflection on black life and racism in America. The album’s cover features an image of Solange taken by photographer and art director Carlota Guerrero. Solange is pictured with bare shoulders, […]

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Record sleeves of the year #03: Parquet Courts, Human Performance

Parquet Courts vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Andrew Savage has designed covers for each of the band’s three albums. He repurposed a Chinese take-away menu for the cover of American Specialties and used an image of a man riding a bull for its follow-up, Light Up Gold. The cover of Human Performance features a painting titled Seizure […]

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Record sleeves of the year #04: Bon Iver, 22, A Million

The mysterious symbols on the cover of Bon Iver’s album 22, A Million were created by Brooklyn-based artist Eric Timothy Carlson. Carlson created a numerical symbol for each track on the album, with his artwork informing some of the final track names. The symbol for 21 Moon Water, for example, is based on the astronomical […]

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Record sleeves of the year #05: Earl Brutus, Closed box set

In the 1990s, Earl Brutus gained a cult following for their raucous live shows, provocative album art and unusual mix of punk, glam rock and electronica. Scott King’s Closed box set for the band perfectly captures their eccentricity and aesthetic. It’s everything a commemorative box set should be – a beautifully produced and loving homage […]

Aphex Twin Cheetah artwork by The Designers Republic. Label: Warp

Record sleeves of the year #06: Aphex Twin, Cheetah

Aphex Twin’s Cheetah EP was made using 1980s technology manufactured by British company Cheetah. Warp premiered the album at a music convention in Nashville this summer, setting up a listening station laid out like a product demo stand with a Cheetah MS800 synthesiser displayed in plexiglass. The album’s artwork was created by The Designers Republic […]

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Record sleeves of the year #07: Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

Stanley Donwood has created some brilliant covers for Radiohead and A Moon Shaped Pool is no exception. The deluxe edition of the album comes with 32 pages of artwork and is packaged with a piece of original master tape from a Radiohead recording session. The artwork was created using huge canvases which were exposed to […]

Nicolas Jaar, Sirens, photographed by Carlo Polisano for Key Production

Record sleeves of the year #08: Nicolas Jaar, Sirens

The vinyl edition of Nicolas Jaar’s album Sirens comes with a scratch-off cover. The sleeve is coated in a white ink similar to the kind found on scratchcards and supplied with a quarter, which can be used to scratch off the coating. Underneath is an image of A Logo for America – a provocative artwork […]

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Record sleeves of the year #09: Kaytranada, 99.9%

The vibrant artwork for the debut album by Haitian-Canadian DJ and producer Kaytranada (AKA Louis Kevin Celestin) was created by Spanish illustrator Ricardo Cavolo. Cavolo was asked to create a portrait of Kaytranada and incorporate a series of symbols, including aeroplanes, a broken heart and a storm. “I think he was leaving a darker time […]

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Record sleeves of the year #10: Frank Ocean, Blond

On August 19, Frank Ocean dropped a 45-minute visual album and a beautiful video for the track Nikes directed by Tyrone Lebon. The following day, he released his much-anticipated second album Blond (also referred to as Blonde), giving copies away for free at pop-up stores in London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The album […]

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Record sleeves of the year #11: Pet Shop Boys, Super

The cover for Pet Shop Boys album Super stands out for its simplicity. There is no band name or photography, just the name of the album in a fluorescent circle, suggesting a record that is upbeat and full of energy. The cover was designed by Farrow, whose creative director Mark Farrow met the band while working […]