Don’t judge a book by its cover. But do judge the cover. We’ve done just that, and present to you a list of the 10 best album covers of 2013, each with a wallpaper image you can save to your prized computer or mobile device. Goodbye, default image of a leaf really close up. Hello, Sky Ferreira’s nipple.
Sigur Rós - Kveikur
A photo by late Brazillian artist Lygia Clark. Despair incarnate stares right into you with an unrelenting gaze of sheer anguish. Sounds dreadful, but honestly being swallowed up by the void isn’t so bad.
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
At the end of the day, RAM sucked. Sorry, it did. But Daft Punk’s recorded material beyond Discovery is mostly a mild footnote to their brilliant brand. This year their image was ubiquitous, and perfectly embodied by this instantly classic cover by longtime collaborator Cédric Hervet.
Toro Y Moi - Anything in Return
Chaz Bundick’s last full-length was adorned with an extreme close up of his lips, so this portrait by pal John Stortz made for a comparatively debonair cover. Throw a squiggly box around that and all of a sudden I’m looking out through the inside of a Lichtenstein painting, and oh my god I’m trapped in a painting. Chaz, don’t just stand there, help me. Hello? HELLO?!
Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze
The photo is by Adam Wallacavage, but credit goes mostly to illustrator Steve Powers, who defeats the world’s most boring wall with his effortless doodles. If you crave more control in your life, the double deluxe edition has a graffiti-less wall and comes with with Steve’s drawings as stickers on the side so you can stick them on yourself.
R Stevie Moore – Personal Appeal
R Stevie Moore is as weird as he is prolific, and he is very much of both. Naturally, he looks like a cross between Dan Deacon and David Suzuki, as captured in this surprisingly intimate pencil portrait of his disembodied head.
Pharmakon – Abandon
Pharmakon’s Margaret Chardiet had her sister Jane take this powerful photo. Our focus catches on Margaret’s bare legs and follows them up to her crotch, which is literally spilling over with maggots. You’re still turned on, right? Accept your shame – it’s apt punishment for your male gaze, bro.
Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
Like many a young female pop artist, Sky Ferreira’s image is important to her success, and her team hasn’t been shy about leveraging her natural beautiful-but-broken vibe. But this photo by filmmaker Gaspar Noé takes her image to a darker place. She’s naked, exposed and vulnerable, seemingly frozen in raw existential fear by a premonition of her own doom. Mondays, right?
Cass McCombs - Big Wheel and Others
Albert Herter has provided artwork for Cass McCombs before, but this hellish maze of monsters and bones and blood and chaos is his best contribution to date. I kinda had to tile this one for the desktop image and crop it for the mobile version, and I feel guilty about it so please don’t tell Albert I ruined his art.
Pusha T - My Name is My Name
A striking portrait by Joe Perez, who works at Kanye West’s design studio DONDA and did the Yeezus cover. Could be great fodder for a Critical Race Theory essay, but mostly it’s just really badass.
Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu
Without the frame it looks like a community mural paying homage to Beloved Leader Souleyman, The Benevolent, The Just. That actually sounds like a good project. We should set that up.