Album Cover Breakdown!

Vol. 1 - Issue 1


One day, I was sitting in the cafe of Barnes & Noble in Springfield, IL, perusing a book entitled The Art of the LP. This book gathers hundreds of albums covers and dissects them in great detail. Thumbing through each page, I began thinking about some of my favorite album covers. I noticed that the book only covered music from 1955-1995, so I asked myself:

What contemporary album cover could I analyze and break down?

The first album that came to mind was Tame Impala’s newest studio album, Currents. Currents is very much a concept album, so its artwork is worthy of a close examination. At a glance, the artwork is just a cool, trippy-looking picture. But when you dive a bit deeper, some common themes become evident.

Right off the bat, the name of the album stands out. What is a current? In the context of a river, a current is a body of water that constantly flows in one direction. It’s hard to resist the flow of a current. Take that idea and apply it to life; any given person is living their own current. They are subject to the mercy of their river. Depending on the terrain and elevation, a river can flow at various forces, much like how people’s living situations can vary greatly. You can’t go back to the past. When you resist the natural stream of life, it can really wear you down. Sometimes, you just have to “Let It Happen”, which is, coincidentally, the title of the opening track on Currents.

“Let It Happen” features an instrumental breakdown in the middle of the song that climaxes with a half-second loop that almost makes you think the record is skipping. A stream of consciousness that becomes disrupted, but only for a moment. Did I mention the third track off the album is called “The Moment”? Other songs on the record allude to themes of life and passages of time, too: “Past Life”, “Reality In Motion”, “Eventually”, “Yes I’m Changing”, and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”.

With this in mind, the album’s artwork becomes more clear. Notice the lines on the cover are angled, as if they’re floating downstream. These lines represent people’s lives. The red line is Kevin Parker, better known as Tame Impala. The ball in the center is the album itself. The lines are altered because of the ball. Translation: once people listen to Currents, it alters their life. It can be something small, or a more profound change that alters the course of one’s life.

Parker might not have intended for his work to be interpreted this way, but this interpretation fits seamlessly with the album’s lyrical content. Artistic significance aside, you have to admit…it looks pretty cool.

John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers once stated in an interview regarding their 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, “Don’t get your mind in that position where you’re judging each song for whatever you can get out of it. Just listen to it for what it is and they’re basically good sounds and good vibes.” Take John’s words of wisdom and give Currents a spin.



Posted on December 30, 2015 .