Bat for Lashes sleeve art shot by Ryan McGinley

Turns out, that random coffee conversation about current sleeve art homage, was trending hard in the world music and photography. OK, two examples, but they’re brilliant examples, which counts for an extra trend example in a statistically proven quality/quantity maths thingy

Seeing isn’t quite believing sometimes. My colleague Luke, a musician, shared a coffee on Tuesday and showed me on his smartphone some sleeve art lookalikes such as the current Bat For Lashes (Natasha Khan) album ‘The Haunted Man’ alongside Patti Smith’s post-punk classic ‘Horses’.

“I loved the cover of the Bats for Lashes record released this week,” he said, “It seems instantly iconic looking but maybe thats because it reminded me of this.”

‘Yeah, I see what you’re saying’, but you know, when a friend says something interesting it’s cool but not quite real. When a magazine says something, it’s nailed-down, copper-bottomed, premium-reality, official-Olympic-sponsored fact. The connection remained a shared thought-bubble until Luke plonked this week’s copy of UK music bible, NME, pages open on 40- 41 with a boxout on the Bat For Lashes sleeve (in red).

NME, July 28, pages 40-41

Not insignificantly both sleeves were shot by great photographers.

The photo of Smith for Horses was shot by her ‘soulmate’, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. You can read the story behind this image in Smith’s evocative and moving memoir of their relationship Just Kids.

Robert Smith's photo for Patti Smith's Horses

‘The Haunted Man’ was shot by Ryan McGinley, another New York-based photographer with a fondness for Polaroids and street culture.

There’s even a symmetry between the pose of hands of Smith and Khan. And Luke is on a roll, a one-man diviner of sleeve symmetry and pop synchronicity.


And then

So what’s the trend? Black and White and unadorned (except of course for the naked man adorning the shoulders of Natasha Khan). And the image of the strong woman, literally so in Khan’s case. She told the NME, ‘There’s been a lot of magical symbolic visual stuff going around lately, and I started to feel like it had been overplayed a bit. I really love Ryan’s [McGinley, photographer] work, andrerally wanted to strip things back in honour of women like Patti Smith; just these raw, honest women. It’s just me and my haunted man.”

While Sharon Van Etten reflects on the homage to the Cale cover, “I kind of wanted the cover to be androgynous but strong. I didn’t want it to be pretty, I just wanted it to be straight-forward. And I think artwork covers [resonate with] what you hear.”

So what do you think? Visually, the direct, raw, strong-woman trend? Anyone got a name for the trend?  Any other examples of music sleeve homage?


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