A popular saying, widely but not definitively attributed to Elvis Costello, holds that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” In addition to skewering music critics — a perennial punching bag — this joke asserts the ultimate integrity of each individual art form. What is expressed in one medium, the logic goes, you cannot translate into another.
Album art presents an interesting challenge to Costello’s formalist maxim. While a sleeve design cannot really tell you what the music inside sounds like, it can become a part of the total work, bringing a visual component to the listening experience. In cases when architecture finds its way onto an album cover, these buildings also get bound up with the music. When this is pulled off effectively, music and architecture can speak to each other in intriguing ways.
As we put together this list, we did a good amount of dancing about architecture, or at least tapping our feet while considering the subtle, sometimes ingenious ways musicians have played with architectural iconography over the years. What follows are just 15 examples of memorable album covers featuring architecture. This is far from a complete list, so please share your own examples in the comments.
15. Stars: The North (2012)
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