• Timothy J. Barron

Inspired and Coincidental Album Art



Album artwork is something that many music enthusiasts find fascinating and interesting, and music history is filled with many iconic album covers, such as The Dark Side of the Moon (shown above) from Pink Floyd. Interest in album artwork has somewhat declined among those who only listen to their music via streaming, but the appreciation has been reborn to some degree with the resurgence of vinyl and the big album covers that it brings. My primary listening method is digitally via the Apple Music app (i.e the former iTunes) on macOS or iOS, and I maintain my music library with high resolution album artwork (i.e. 1500 x 1500 pixels). Background information on the album artwork and design is something that I capture on the Lyrics tab of the Apple Music app, which is described in my Digital Music Library Organization Tips.


As album artwork is something that interests me, I take of notice and recognize when artwork bears similarities to past artwork. These similarities may have been directly inspired, as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or the similarities may be entirely coincidental. These are just three examples that I recognized from my music library.


New Order and CHVRCHES


The first example is the artwork for the CHVRCHES album Every Open Eye, which was released on September 25, 2015,

and was designed by Amy Burrows. When I first saw the artwork (shown lower right), my immediate reaction was recalling the artwork for the New Order album Power, Corruption, and Lies (shown lower left), which was released on May 2, 1983, and was designed by Peter Saville. My reaction was fed by two factors, which was that CHVRCHES had previously expressed many times that New Order was one of their biggest influences, and that I owned the New Order album on vinyl when it was originally released.


It is more than fair to say that the CHVRCHES artwork was inspired by the New Order album, which is based on the similar usage of roses, as well as the application of colored squares. By no means was I the only one to take notice. Billboard said that the artwork "bears a resemblance to New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, but hey, after 32 years, a bouquet of roses is ripe for a revision. The Glasgow synthpop trio’s cover does an admirable job of carrying on the tradition." While the Guardian said that the "semi-pixelated flowers on the cover of CHVRCHES’ new album seems a direct call back to Peter Saville’s iconic art for New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, which offset a 19th-century Fantin-Latour still life with a very 20th-century colour code." Though one was inspired by the other, the artwork for each album is unique and phenomenal.


Greg Kihn Band and Paramore


The second example is the artwork for the Paramore album After Laughter, which was released on May 12, 2017, and was designed by Scott Cleary. When I first saw the artwork (shown lower right), it triggered something in my mind that it was somehow vaguely familiar, but I could not place my finger on it at that time. The recollection finally hit days or even weeks when I was playing the Greg Kihn Band album RocKihnRoll (shown lower left), which was released in 1981, and the artwork was designed by Mike Fink. The Paramore album was heavily influenced by the 1980s, and this is reflected in the sound and style of the music, the colorful music videos, the fashion worn by the band, and ultimately the album artwork.


There is no basis to state that the artwork for After Laughter was inspired by the artwork for RocKihnRoll, but it would be fair to say that there are some coincidental similarities. This includes loosely similar color palettes of turquoise, pink, and purple, the usage of angled and colored geometric shapes, and the names of both being in black and white and all capital letters. While entirely coincidental, both designs bear pleasing similarities in their overall design when viewed side by side..


The Call and The SUNDAYS


The last example is The SUNDAYS album Blind, which was released on October 19, 1992. When I first saw the artwork, my reaction was a nearly instant recollection of The Call album Reconciled, which was released in 1986.


There is no basis to state that the artwork for The SUNDAYS was influenced by The Call album, but there are a number of striking and coincidental similarities. First, the usage of an infant and a loosely similar doll. Second, the usage of a singular color tone, with purple for The Call and brown for The SUNDAYS. Third, a pixelated or airbrush distortion effect across the entire artwork of both albums. Additionally, the band names being in all capital letters, which The SUNDAYS used throughout all three of their albums. Though coincidental, both albums have a pleasing similar design.


These are just three examples that came to mind from my music library, and the last two were selected as I am not aware of anyone else previously making the specific comparisons. As I run across other inspired or coincidental album artwork, I may post another series in the future. I'd be interested your comments about the similarities below!



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