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

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Parquet Courts vocalist, guitarist and songwriter  Andrew Savage designed covers for each of the New York rock 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 in a Hallway, which Savage created before recording the album. (He is also a visual artist.)

“[It] wasn’t painted with the intention of being an album cover, but as it leaned against the wall in my studio, it became very evident that the painting contained a lot of the same emotions of helplessness and vulnerability that the record addresses,” he explains.

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The artwork features hand-drawn type throughout: Savage wrote out all of the album’s lyrics as well as liner notes and the text on the album’s cover. “It takes a long time. I rewrote the liner notes three times because people kept getting added to the thank you list,” he says.

The lyrics book contains an intriguing set of illustrations: images are closely linked with songs on the album, says Savage – “but I’ll leave it to the viewer to come to their own associations,” he adds.

The artwork also stands out for its bold use of colour – something Savage says is “extremely important” in his art. “A lot of the painters I look at, like Jacob Lawrence, John Wesley, Matisse, are artists whose colour choices are really rich with meaning, and have this way of using colour harmoniously, which I find really admirable,” he explains.

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Savage has synaesthesia – meaning he experiences sound and vision simultaneously – and sees each album as a different shade. “I have lots of associations with colour, which is why I was very sure that the record would be a certain shade of blue, in the same way that I knew Light Up Gold would predominantly be a very warm shade of yellow and Content Nausea would be Orange,” he says. “I think most people experience synaesthesia but might not realise it or have the word for it, but it’s why we respond to imagery, colours, objects the way that we do,” he adds. It’s a lovingly crafted design with some great hand-drawn and painted artwork.

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“I know that for a lot of people, their first experience with the record will not be an auditory one. The cover art is the ambassador between the sounds contained within the record and someone’s potential interest in it [so] it really must appeal to their sense of curiosity,” explains Savage.


Label: Rough Trade

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