Comparing The National’s Album Art Design

Before he was the the brooding baritone singer of The National, Matt Berninger used to be a graphic designer (albeit one who reportedly distracted himself by scribbling lyrics in the margins during meetings). So it sorta makes sense that he and the band would have a great, clean sense of design when it comes to their record covers. Starting with last year’s very fine High Violet, and continuing through their subsequent singles and EPs, The National’s album art has been particularly gorgeous, with a cohesive, evocative look and feel.

These covers are the work of New York-based artist Mark Fox, whose sculptures have been the basis for, and in some cases, re-purposed into album art. These incredibly intricate sketches and sculptures look to be crafted out of all sorts of textures and tactile materials: wood, string, metal, tape, paper colored with paint and colored pencils, and so on. There is so much detail to these pieces that you want to reach out and touch them, but at the same time there is a simplicity to Fox’s work which allows them to be a natural fit for an album cover.

When viewed together into a series, and coupled with a sleek typography layout, there’s a clear sense of style and direction that seems perfect for the dark, melodic vibe that The National’s music exudes.

Fox’s piece “The Binding Force” was used as the basis for the cover for The National’s full-length album High Violet:

The cover to the lead single “Blood Buzz Ohio,” is based on Fox’s piece, “Jane Jacobs Understands The Beehive:”

The cover to “Terrible Love” single and the expanded edition of High Violet uses Fox’s piece, “Ark:”

The cover to the single “Think You Can Wait,” is based on Fox’s “Cloud (Days Of That Are Over):

And finally, the cover to the brand new single “Exile Vilify” is based on “The White Sawhorseman:”

You can also apparently buy t-shirts from The National, designed by Mark Fox too (Here and here.) Great stuff.