Inspired by dhex’s most-excellent post on album art that reflects the content, this is Accurate Album Art!

What we are seeking here is truth in advertising. These ten records do what it shows on the tin. Sample songs at the links.

Gentlemen, Afghan Whigs – This photo, like the record, makes me uncomfortable. It’s clearly meant to imply a noirish adult post-coital scene; why they didn’t go whole-hog and give one or both children a cigarette is beyond me. The lacerating lyrics on the subject of relationships (if on the surface they seem misogynistic, that’s actually a reflection of the unsparingly self-loathing and clearly unreliable narrator) only reinforce the message: no matter how grown-up we pretend to be, we’re emotionally no more than perpetual children, and thus will we hurt each other endlessly and without mercy.

Loveless, My Bloody Valentine – Such an obvious example I nearly didn’t include it, this cover looks exactly like the record sounds – molten guitars organically vibrating into pink-red infinity; a sonic tsunami of amniotic fluid, serotonin and love.

Consumed, Plastikman – A monumentally-mysterious and architecturally-severe extradimensional artifact full of ominous sub-bass thrum and patient, precise dread. Peer through that die-cut keyhole on the cover and you might see something moving down there in the dark depths: a cyborg perhaps, or a Cenobite.

Amber, Autechre – With access to nearly-infinite varieties of possible tones, timbres and tempos, electronic music can paint previously-unknown emotional shades for which we have as yet no names. This picture seems to capture an alien silicate intelligence’s homesickness.

Last Splash, The Breeders – With a psychedelically-oversaturated green and red color scheme that calls to mind a sensually-juicy ripe strawberry, it’s a sweet feminine delicacy slyly concealing a heart that appears to be pumping black motor oil, or poison ichor. “If you’re so special, then why aren’t you dead”, indeed.

Heaven or Las Vegas, Cocteau Twins – Whichever place we’re in, it’s got twinkling Christmas lights, and cherry-coloured funk piped in through hidden speakers.

Black Celebration, Depeche Mode – This one’s almost a little too on-the-nose, but the fact that it appears to synthesize a glass office high rise, a church, factory smokestacks, and a futuristic prison citadel allowed it to hit every single one of the usual Mode topics du jour – commerce and religion, industry and alienation, with flowers of romance organically springing up through the cracks anyway.

Friday Night is Killing Me, Bash & Pop – How can you have a proper Sunday Morning Coming Down unless you get that bender started on Friday night? This picture promises a neon good time but it smells like stale cigarettes, cheap beer, broken promises and debilitating regret.

Pink Flag, Wire – While other punk bands imagined themselves to be hoisting the black flag and slitting throats, Wire was more interested in maps and boundaries; hence, a surveying flag as oblique manifesto (they didn’t even include the album title on the cover). A declaration not of war nor surrender, but of demarcation and subtraction.

Coastal Brake, Tycho – A little like a sunnier, warmer Boards of Canada, Tycho trades explicitly on a sort of wavery, watery nostalgia. This silhouette has it all: faux-aged and -distressed, it even has flares or water droplets freckling the “lens”; one green-eyed girl on one golden day, both gone forever.

What’re your favorite examples of accurate album art?


Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.


  1. And the Who say “You expected another Tommy? Piss on that.

    • I always liked the cover, but I never got it beyond the obvious joke.

      [Waits for Kazzy to ask, “Who’s the Who?”]

      • Actually, I made that up. Who’s Next sounds like “just a bunch of songs”, but it’s actually the remnant of an even more ambitious project than Tommy that completely fell apart. Some great songs, though.

        • I listened to Side A of that album (VINYL!) all the freakin’ time in 1992-1993. “This is the best song” merged into “No, *THAT* is the best song” for pretty much each of them.

          The Classic Rock station here in town pretty much only plays Baba O’Riley… but a million years ago, Greg made a comment about the best three songs in a row on any album… I think that “Love Ain’t For Keeping”, “My Wife”, and “The Song Is Over” hold their own in that argument.

          • It just goes to show. I love that album too, but my ranking (best to least best) would go:

            Baba O’Riley
            Behind Blue Eyes
            Love Ain’t For Keeping
            Getting in Tune
            Won’t Get Fooled Again
            Going Mobile
            My Wife
            The Song is Over

            Oh, and if you don’t know their song Pure and Easy (you hear the very beginning of it at the end of Song is Over), you should check it out.

    • That’s pretty funny. I can’t decide whether the fact that it looks like they made it themselves on a 1992 computer takes away from the “newspaper article” joke, or adds to it, in the meta sense that of course a local band would be making their own CD covers on a 1992 computer.

  2. Every Pinky Floyd album cover during the Waters tenure (A Momentary Lapse of Reason is completely false advertising).

    • Or maybe not… I remember Waters said something to the effect that A Momentary Lapse of Reason was a good imitation of a Pink Floyd album, and that cover is a good imitation of a Pink Floyd cover.

      • Learning to Fly was the first Pink Floyd song I heard (I was more in 1980), so it is memorable for me. That is definitely not the greatest album, though.

    • OK, so here’s my question about the Floyd covers: granted that they are great/iconic covers (Hipgnosis is one of the great design companies, no question). Memorable even if the music had sucked (it doesn’t suck).

      But what are they communicating about the music inside (Wall excepted, obviously)? I have lots of album covers that I love, that are associated with the album/music in my mind just by dint of “that’s a great cover, and a great album”; but when I started to write something about them, I realized there was no real thematic linkage other than my own positive associations.

      A prism, or a man shaking hands while immolating are classic and memorable graphics, but do they say something specific about the music inside, other than “whoa, dude, trippy!”?

      • Well, Wish You Were Here is a great example of what we might call a literal metaphor: it’s a metaphor that is precisely about the content of the album (insanity, distance, etc.). Piper at the Gates of Dawn is definitely just “whoa, dude, trippy,” but that’s pretty much all that album is. Umma Gumma, which is a live-studio double album, gives you Pink Floyd right there, in front of you, in the flesh, and then distant but perfectly reproduced. Meddle is amorphous and mildly disconcerting, but oddly relaxing at the same time (the blues, the ripples), and so on. Dark Side maybe the exception, except to the extent that the album is as iconic as the cover. It says, “You are about to listen to something important.”

        • Interesting about Wish, that had never occurred to me. I guess because the mannequins are in suits and appear to be closing a business deal on a studio backlot, I saw the photo as some sort of protest against “The Man” and empty commerce.

          Meddle makes sense, that is a good example.

          Dark Side actually seems like it could have something to do with insanity (the scattering/fragmentation of a previously seemingly-unitary beam of light)?

          • I think that’s a piece of Wish You Were Here, and you get that on the album too with “Welcome to the Machine,” so I suppose it works that way too.

          • Plus I always got the impression that Waters felt that it was the industry (and not the LSD or schizophrenia) that drove Barrett insane. Added to the pressure they felt in coming up with a follow up to Dark Side (how do you follow an album like that?), I suppose that works. I always took the guy on fire to be Barrett/Waters, and the guy shaking hands to be the industry, the fans, I dunno, but the fire I definitely saw as the insanity and the pressure and alienation that ruined Barrett and that motivated Waters to write those songs.

          • That’s a pretty cool interpretation. Whether it was the intent doesn’t even matter, accidental synchronicity can be more powerful than intentional anyway.

          • Also “Have a Cigar” (Which one’s Pink?)

          • I bought the Pink Floyd boxed set sometime around 1994 or 1995, and it contained postcards with all of the album covers, which I put into one frame (in chronological order) and put up on my wall. It’s actually in my closet now, but I spent a lot of time looking at those album covers.

          • BTW Chris, Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow The Leader & Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em arrived in today’s post. Looking forward to them, but I had a bunch of stuff arrive all at once, so it may be a little while until I get to them.

          • Awesome! Let me know what you think.

            I think I’ll go listen to Follow the Leader right now.

          • Last time we talked about them you told me they were basically as good as Paid in Full, which I like a lot, so I expect I will like them. I was able to get both together for about $10 which seemed like a steal, but even with my bargain-shopping I am definitely at my budget limit this month.

  3. If ever I won the lottery, I’d be tempted to buy the four Kiss solo albums and frame them in one of those “Four Albums” frames.

  4. “You might think of us as acid-soaked hippies, but right now we’re country boys.”

    • Maybe they were trying to emulate Creedence.

      Those guys were “Born on the Bayou”

      • Creedence are Bay Area guys too (from El Cerrito, near Berkeley.)

        • Right, that was my point (see the bolded portion…maybe I should have gone with “Bay…ou” instead). And they managed to make the whole thing so convincing-seeming that people are STILL surprised when you tell them that Creedence didn’t come out of a swamp.

          • “Baby, don’t just look at percentages; remember, it’s tax-free.”

  5. Gentlemen is a perfect choice for this. I heard Greg Dulli comment that this was, basically, a concept album about “people who stay in bad relationships too long for all the wrong reasons”. Everything about it is despondent and detached (which I think the kids on the cover really show). It also seems like the “people” in the songs are far more emotionally immature than they needed to be to have successful relationships. There’s almost a loss of innocence to it.

    Years ago, in an interview Dulli said that there are some songs off of Gentlemen that he just can’t perform, because they’re just too emotional and were written when he was in a bad place and he can’t go back there. This just underscores your point that “they seem misogynistic, that’s actually a reflection of the unsparingly self-loathing and clearly unreliable narrator”.

    Judging an album as a single entity, Gentlemen is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. It’s a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (and the parts – the songs – are great on their own). The song sequence is great, too. When We Two Parted blends really well into Gentlemen (with the quiet first song ending with the sound of wind, only to have the sporadic drum beat of the second come in a few times, before Gentlemen kicks you in the face), and then the third song (Debonair?) is in the same mold as Gentlemen but reprises the lyrics from When We Two Parted, ratcheting up the volume and vitriol.

    And Dulli’s one of the greatest front men of all time.

    Oh fuck it, I’m just going to go listen to the album.

    • And now that I’m listening to it, I see I screwed up the song names. If I Were Going is the first song and its lyrics are reprised in Debonair, the fourth track.

      • It’s a great album, no doubt. But I prefer 1965 because, as I said, Gentlemen makes me uncomfortable. Those shitty things the narrator is saying (thinking)? Yeah…I’ve thought those things. So it’s like reading a novel that is well-written, but evokes unpleasant sensations and memories. I only listen to it once every two years or so.

        1965 eases back a little bit on the darkness, and also finally musically brings in the genuine soul that the Whigs were always promising; the grooves on that are HOT; they actually swing, instead of approximating swing.

        • I agree with most of this. As a collection of songs, I’ll go with 1965. But there’s a real artistic punch to Gentlemen when you listen to it all the way through that isn’t there with 1965 or, really, most every other album ever made. Like that well-written novel, it might fall into the category of uncomfortable art.

          But the music, yeah, 1965 does a better job. John The Baptist might be the quintessential Whigs song. You really get the sense that with 1965 they’re saying ‘see this, this is what we’ve been trying to do, and what we’ve been trying to do is fantastic”.

          • Put “66” on a mix for a girl, and you’re getting one of two things: either lucky, or a visit from the police.

    • That first one reminded me of Sneaker Pimps’ Becoming X.

      That second one is cool. What are they?

      • An Otaku Band from Japan called Love Solfege (spelled Love Solfege’ after they got a label).

        … the second one is one of three CDs that comprise an opera they made (after discovering a 16th century opera buried in the Vatican’s vaults… because the composer had dedicated it to Satan).

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