Warner’s in-house designer talks us through his work for the new Foals album

Mike Lythgoe talks to CR about his designs for Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, working with Foals’ lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis, and the importance of cats

Foals album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, designed by Mike Lythgoe

“One of the first things Yannis said to me was, ‘whatever we do, we’re going to have both our cats on it,” says Mike Lythgoe, the man behind the design of the new Foals record, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost. It seems like a pretty fun, and very achievable bit of design direction from Yannis Philippakis, the band’s lead vocalist and lead guitarist. And yes, we do see his cat: little Pidge (that’s short for Pigeon) is shown resplendent against a red backdrop, with shining yellow eyes, in the centre of the 70″ single for the album’s deluxe edition. In addition, drummer Jack Bevan’s cat Dracula has also seen her face placed on wax, as this fabulous image confirms.

Lythgoe has worked in house as a designer across various acts from the labels Warner and Parlophone. He also worked on the previous release for Foals 2015’s What Went Down. With both projects, he worked closely with Philippakis, describing the singer as the “driving force” behind the design work.

“He has a really good idea of what he likes, so it’s a case of working with what he envisages of his record,” says Lythgoe. Throughout the making of the record Philippakis had been closely “living with” a photograph by Ecuador-born multidisciplinary artist Vicente Muñoz. The image, which graces the cover of the record, shows bright reddish-pink foliage contrasted against a building with intricate brickwork and shuttered windows. It all feels very cinematic, and slightly eerie.

“Yannis felt that image was the best way to visualise what the record is like sonically,” says Lythgoe. “It really fits with the colours.” The deluxe edition of the record features a range of photographic works from various artists.

Foals album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, designed by Mike Lythgoe. Photography by Vicente Muñoz.

Stylistically, this release is a continuation of sorts from the previous album: “The main thing, as with the last record, is about attention to detail,” says Lythgoe. “It’s about the small minutiae of the design … there’s a lot going on. But the bold, brash colour on the cover feels to me like a really good reflection of the record.”

The use of typography down the side of the record’s cover is a nod to the side strips used on Japanese version of records. “We were initially going to do a Greek version, since Yannis’ dad is Greek, but people didn’t go for that in the end,” says Lythgoe.

The back of the record shows white text delineating song lyrics. These were manually typed on a typewriter, and Philippakis and Lythgoe sat down together for the singer to add his annotations. “It’s nice to have something hand-drawn rather than always technical and detailed,” says Lythgoe, “and fans appreciate that personal touch.”

Foals album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, designed by Mike Lythgoe