Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of album artwork profiles (aptly titled “Cover Models”) written by The State Press’ Jordan Bohannon. Follow him on Twitter @Jordan_Bohannon.
Perfect Pussy’s “Say Yes to Love” is one of the single most cacophonous records released in 2014. The sonic riptide that relentlessly pulls you out to sea with its weight in a mere 23 minutes (15 if you don’t count the eight minutes of avant-garde drone that ends the album) is an album destined for the annals of punk history.
Meredith Graves’s poetry is buried underneath waves of noise — that is until the pivotal moment in the song when it all becomes too clear and her earnest lyrics are the only thing you can hear.
Similar to the way the songs are structured to reveal Graves’s musing at their most exposed moments, Ryan McCardle’s packaging design for the album is equally as powerful. McCardle, who has been the in house graphic designer for Captured Tracks since 2011, designed the perfect album artwork for the tour de force that is “Say Yes to Love.”
Instead of capitalizing on the obvious shock value of the bands name, McCardle embossed the letters PP plainly in shield, set against a stark white background.
I had the incredible experience of getting to talk with Meredith Graves after Perfect Pussy played at the Rhythm Room back in June (see: the selfie embedded in this post).
Aside from chatting about James Joyce’s overtly kinky love letters to his wife, I talked with her about the design of the album cover and the lyrics sheet. She told me that the only direction she gave McCardle was to read e.e. cumming’s poetry and then design the packaging.
Despite the greatness of the album artwork itself, McCardle’s real gem is the lyrics sheet that is included in the physical packaging of the record. The eight page booklet is as dissonant as the tracks, but simultaneously sheds a much-needed light on the poetics of Meredith graves.
The lyrics booklet is crammed with post-modern, type-heavy representations of the songs and their lyrics. The type varies in size from word to word, the kerning is played with to place emphasis on phrases, lines slash through words and the lines are arranged in a disjointed way that only loosely keeps the songs together. Despite the visual noise, all of these devices increase the readability of Graves’s poetry — especially when coupled with the music. There is no better way to immerse yourself in a record than to sit down and listen to it in its entirety while pouring over the lyrics sheet provided by the artist. I still vividly remember the first time I listened to “Say Yes to Love,” and a crucial part of that memory is the impact that Ryan McCardle’s lyrics booklet had on the experience.
Never before had the lyrics been presented in a way that I felt reflected the music, it was a completely immersive experience and one of the few times that I have been able to fall into an album so immediately.
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