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Best Album Covers Of 2024: 20 Great Artworks Of The Year
List & Guides

Best Album Covers Of 2024: 20 Great Artworks Of The Year

From feats of graphic-design genius to inventively staged portraits, the best album covers of 2024 complete artistic statements of intent.

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There’s a reason Noel Gallagher described vinyl as “the poor man’s art collection”. Given the right visuals, a great album can be elevated to “legendary” status, its cover having as much cultural impact as the music within – think, Nirvana, Nevermind; Pink Floyd, The Dark Side Of The Moon; Sex Pistols, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. While some album covers aim simply to grab attention, the standouts help complete a cohesive artistic statement – and there are plenty of those among the best album covers of 2024. Here are the finest artworks of the year so far…

Listen to our Chart playlist here, and check out the best album covers of 2023, below.

20: Charli XCX: ‘brat’

One of the most praised pop records of 2024, Charli XCX’s sixth album, brat, has asserted its creator’s place as the woman of the moment. It’s hyperpop, unapologetic and bold – just like its cover art. A garish green and a lo-res Arial text was all the Club Classics singer needed to capture everyone’s attention, and to encourage her fans – who have long dubbed themselves “Charli’s Angels” – to take to calling themselves “brats”.

Charli has had to defend criticism of her uncharacteristically “simple” artwork. Speaking to Vogue Singapore, she said, “I wanted to go with an offensive, off-trend shade of green to trigger the idea of something being wrong. I’d like for us to question our expectations of pop culture – why are some things considered good and acceptable, and some things deemed bad?” She revealed she likes “to provoke people”, and provoke she did. brat has become a Marmite entry among the best album covers of 2024. Whether you like it or not, it got people talking, and it’s canonically Charli. That alone is why we rate it.

Designer: Charli XCX

19: Ariana Grande: ‘eternal sunshine’

A dreamlike palette of washed-out pastel colours, dyed-blonde hair (all thanks to Wicked) and warm sunlight are the defining ingredients of a total of seven different artwork variants for Ariana Grande’s seventh record, eternal sunshine. On this record, Grande courageously takes on difficult topics of opening up and embracing love – sometimes at the cost of emotional pain – and the album’s seven covers each offer a distinct visual representation of the key themes Grande explores.

In one image, she smiles while vivid, red-gloved hands cover her eyes. Another pictures the back of Grande’s head, her iconic ponytail brushing against the shoulder of an unknown other. A third – a blurry portrait photographed by Katia Temkin – has a softness that aligns perfectly with the vulnerability of eternal sunshine’s 13 songs. Taken together, the images help create a fully rounded-out world for an album that is utterly addictive.

Photographer: Katia Temkin

Ariana Grande: ‘eternal sunshine’

18: Bleachers: ‘Bleachers’

Following in the wake of frontman Jack Antonoff’s growing fame, Bleachers’ self-titled fourth album signals a rebirth of sorts for the New Jersey six-piece. Brash and confident, its sound is a potent blend of pop and rock influences, and it boasts all the hallmarks of a perfect indie-rock album. Having recently loaned his golden production touch to Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and The 1975, Antonoff here gives his own group’s music a palpable warmth, the spirit of which is captured in Bleachers’ cover portrait, as photographed by Alex Lockett. Depicting Antonoff in a simple T-shirt tucked into slacks and leaning against a classic car, the shot conjures an image of all-American 50s cool, with underlying hints of anticipation that helps it earn a spot among the best album covers of 2024.

Photographer Alex Lockett

Artwork Bleachers: ‘Bleachers’

17: Declan McKenna: ‘What Happened To The Beach?’

One of the most talked-about records of 2024, What Happened To The Beach? is Declan Mckenna’s thought-provoking third album. Achieving the seemingly impossible, it dabbles in the heavy themes of environmentalism and the mounting pressures of climate change while still providing moments of pure euphoria. The album’s striking artwork was photographed by the multitalented Henry Pearce, who also plays keyboard during McKenna’s live shows. An early contender among the best album covers of 2024, the image perfectly encapsulates the essence of the searching music within.

Photographer: Henry Pearce

Artwork Declan McKenna: ‘What Happened To The Beach?’

16: Liam Gallagher And John Squire: ‘Liam Gallagher John Squire’

Liam Gallagher John Squire is the first album the former Stone Roses guitarist has put his name to in two decades. Capturing what happened when two of the 90s’ biggest influences united in the studio, it is – unlike many supergroup-type projects – far more than the sum of its parts. To best represent a dynamic body of work with such historic lineage, the pop-art-inspired cover consists of a kaleidoscope of commonplace home products, creating art out of the everyday. There is no doubt that John Squire himself, who was behind the iconic Jackson Pollock-styled cover of The Stone Roses’ debut album, played a role in its conception, serving up a casual nostalgia that’s fitting for a record that any 90s enthusiast is sure to lap up.

Designers: Jamie Hutchinson, John Squire

Liam Gallagher And John Squire: ‘Liam Gallagher John Squire’

15: Little Simz: ‘Drop 7’

Introspective and vulnerable, Little Simz’s latest release, Drop 7, is simply remarkable. Presenting the British rapper in profile as part-human, part-cyborg, the album’s black-and-white artwork both reflects the era of technological possibility we exist in and honours Simz’s own expedition into the unknown on a raw, thought-provoking journey of self-reflection. A powerful representation of the album’s themes, it more than earns itself a spot among the best album covers of 2024.

Designers: Jeremy Cole, Marco Grey

Artwork Little Simz: ‘Drop 7’

14: Billie Eilish: ‘Hit Me Hard And Soft’

Arriving nearly three years on from her previous release, Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish’s hotly-anticipated third album exists in the same realm as its predecessor, but with the added charm of Eilish’s 2017 EP, dont smile at me. Picturing the singer falling through an open door and into a deep blue-black sea, its artwork was created during a gruelling photoshoot for which Eilish was weighted down, fully clothed, in a vast container of water. “There’s a tank in this giant place, and it was, like, ten feet deep. And I popped my little ass in there, and I was in there for six hours,” she told Stephen Colbert.

Many fans and internet sleuths are convinced that Hit Me Hard And Soft is the first half of a double album. Dubbed the “ilomilo theory”, after a song on Eilish’s debut, the idea is that a companion cover would see Eilish submerged in a red sea. True or not, the theory gave Hit Me Hard And Soft’s sleeve its own deep lore, and for that alone it earns a spot among the best album covers of 2024.

Photographer: William Drumm

13: Beyoncé: ‘Cowboy Carter’

After mastering disco and house music on 2023’s Renaissance, Beyoncé continues her mission to reclaim Black music genres, this time with country. Lana Del Rey, Sabrina Carpenter and Zayn have all released their own country projects of late, but none have made a statement quite like Cowboy Carter, an album Beyoncé has said was “born out of an experience… where I did not feel welcomed”.

The Texas-born singer makes her Lone Star State roots clear on Cowboy Carter’s artwork: perching sidesaddle on a galloping white horse, her own icy mane blowing in the wind, she raises the US flag aloft. In a testament to Beyoncé’s attention to detail, the inner sleeves of the deluxe vinyl editions of both Renaissance and Cowboy Carter can be matched together in different configurations. This leaves us all the more intrigued as to the design for the trilogy’s third part…

Photographer: Blair Caldwell

12: Gary Clark, Jr: ‘JPEG Raw’

The fourth album by Gary Clark, Jr, JPEG Raw explores much more than the Texas blues. A play on image file name, the album’s title is an acronym for the subject matter covered across the record’s 12 songs. The Austin-born singer-songwriter takes listeners on a journey of jealousy, pride, envy, greed, rules, alter ego and worlds, via a sensational blend of jazz, hip-hip and his signature rock and blues. The result is an album of self-reflection, on which Clark comes to terms with the fact that it’s impossible to be everything to everyone.

JPEG Raw’s cover is, put simply, a stunning piece of photography – something Clark is no stranger to. Shot in black-and-white, with a blurred background and subtle grain, its simple portrait of the artist, his face partially obscured by a raised hand, is moody and perfectly captures every emotion touched upon in the album.

Photographer: Unknown

11: Dua Lipa: ‘Radical Optimism’

The wait is over. Dua Lipa has finally entered her Radical Optimism era. As she has explained it, the album’s title comes from “the idea of going through chaos gracefully and feeling like you can weather any storm”. True to that concept, the artwork pictures Lipa in the open sea, calm and powerfully postured as she eyes an approaching shark. With lead single Houdini being named after a death-defying escape artist, Radical Optimism is full of empowering messages.

Photographer: Unknown

artwork  Dua Lipa: ‘Radical Optimism’

10: Royel Otis: ‘PRATTS & PAIN’

If you’re a frequent user of TikTok, you’ve no doubt heard Royel Otis’ addictive indie cover of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder On The Dancefloor. Following this viral live performance, the duo released their debut album, PRATTS & PAIN, in February. A deeply captivating listening experience, it fuses rock and soul with breezy vocals in order to create a sound that meanders seamlessly between the tranquil and the gritty. At first glance, the album cover pictures the Australin duo of Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic dangling from a wall, in mortal peril. Upon closer inspection, they both have their feet firmly planted on the ground. One of the best album covers of 2024, it’s an astute image for a record that’s suffused with a natural warmth and humour yet which nods to the life struggles which inspired the music.

Photographer: Unknown

Artwork Royel Otis: ‘PRATTS & PAIN’

9: Peggy Gou: ‘I Hear You’

Having released track after track and made countless festival appearances since the release of her debut EP in 2016, Peggy Gou has dominated dance music for almost a decade. And at long last, the multi-hyphenate has put out her first album, I Hear You. Gou’s penchant for 90s house music is clear throughout, with added decorations from electronic and techno music helping the record live up to her desire to “create something timeless” that “is a testament to the power of listening, to ourselves and to each other”.

This is perfectly mirrored in what has immediately taken its place among best album covers of 2024. Looking away from the camera and glowing like a holy icon, Gou wears sci-fi-esque accessories that reflect her ears almost to infinity. These “ear art pieces” were designed by Olafur Eliasson, and their beauty captured by photographer Park Jong-ha.

Photographer: Park Jong-ha

8: Vampire Weekend: ‘Only God Was Above Us’

Returning with their first album in five years, Vampire Weekend have confidently embarked on a new era while also paying homage to their two-decade history. Only God Was Above us finds the indie favourites showcasing a more experimental side, and it sounds as though they had a lot of fun doing so. Reflecting their New York City roots, the album’s artwork puts an Inception-like spin on a subway ride, presenting two obscured figures on a beat-up, graffitied carriage seemingly heading nowhere. With the album’s title appearing on a Daily News held by one of the figures, it’s a creative and thought-provoking entry among the best album covers of 2024.

Art director: Nick Harwood

7: Griff: ‘Vertigo’

Capturing attention with singles such as Black Hole and One Night, Griff has certainly been one to watch in recent years, and now the 23-year-old is getting her flowers. Titled Vertigo, her debut album, issued in July 2024, is written from the perspective of what Griff has called “that dizzy upside down sensation that heartache often leaves you with”. The completion of a two-part project, with the first instalment containing “the darker & heavier songs” and the second making “a step up in energy and euphoria”, Vertigo’s “desperate and anthemic” songs have inspired one of the best album covers of 2024. Seemingly defying gravity, Griff appears in the image with her eyes closed, her trademark braid twisting down like the spiralling emotions she explores in her music.

Photographer: Unknown

6: Jacob Collier: ‘Djesse Vol.4’

Breathtaking sonic masterpieces are now par for the course with Jacob Collier, and Djesse Vol.4 is yet another a genre-defying entry in an impressive résumé of releases characterised by their creator’s captivating vocals and multi-instrumental talents. Matching the expansive, mind-blowing sounds within, the album’s cover is a vibrant explosion of tiny images that – revealing more of themselves the closer you look – assumes a vaguely head-shaped image. It’s the perfect accompaniment for Collier’s ever-changing, always exciting music.

Designer: Unknown

Artwork Jacob Collier: ‘Djesse Vol.4’

5: Raveena: ‘Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain’

US singer-songwriter Raveena is back with her third studio album, Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain. Dropping just in time for summer, the release explores love, maturity and comfort, and features artwork that effortlessly compliments the visuals that accompanied her previous releases.

Borrowing from the dreaminess of her debut album, Lucid (2019), and the vivid colour palettes of its follow-up, Asha’s Awakening (2022), the Where The Butterflies Go In The Rain album cover is an arresting portrait that features Raveena’s face, shrouded by an elaborate bouquet of magenta laceleafs which symbolise gentleness, femininity and love. Raveena spoke about the inspiration behind the album, revealing, “Butterflies are so delicate that they have to hide in leaves and flowers until the rain passes so that their wings don’t get crushed in the rain. I felt like that was kind of a metaphor for where I was in my life. I needed to go back to comfort – to deep rest – and stop weathering storms.”

Photographer: Poyenchen | Art director: Yii Ooi | Creative directors: Raveena, Bijan Berahimi

4: Benson Boone: ‘Fireworks And Rollerblades’

Benson Boone hit the ground running in 2024: scoring a global smash in January, maintaining constant TikTok visibility and announcing a major tour, the 21-year-old proved that this was year going to be big. Adding to the wins is his debut album, Fireworks And Rollerblades, which has cemented Boone’s status as a rising star and gifted us another entry among the best album covers of 2024.

Featuring Boone rollerblading down a darkened street, sparks flying from his footwear, the image has a dreamlike quality that makes for the perfect introduction to Boone’s charming mix of folk, pop and rock music. With or without explosives strapped to his feet, the Washington-born singer-songwriter is showing no signs of stopping.

Photographer: Jonathan Weiner

3: Foster The People: ‘Paradise State Of Mind’

The only oil painting on this list of the best album covers of 2024, the artwork for Foster The People’s fourth album, Paradise State Of Mind, is a beautifully rich, fantastical image created by Matt Hansel. Tapping into Salvador Dalí surrealism, the image seems to be scattered with items that symbolise the songs on the record: diamonds, snakes, fruit, crows, wine – there’s nothing that doesn’t intrigue. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the disco-funk-gospel-jazz odyssey promised by the album’s lead single, Lost In Space.

Illustrator: Matt Hansel

2: The Last Dinner Party: ‘Prelude To Ecstasy’

Perhaps the most talked-about band of the year, The Last Dinner Party built a loyal yet sizable following even before releasing any music. Bringing baroque-pop back to the fore, Prelude To Ecstasy is an addictive blend of intricate arrangements, stacked melodies and dramatic vocals that it has taken a special type of artwork match. Staying loyal to their roots, the five-piece staged the cover shoot in East London’s The George Tavern, where they first performed together as a band. Framed – quite literally – as a portrait hung above a mantlepiece strewn with flowers, candles and other accoutrements of mourning, the image is one of the most elegant among the best album covers of 2024, its intimation of faded glamour giving an alluring indication of the nostalgic world The Last Dinner Party inhabit.

Photographer: Cal McIntyre

Artwork The Last Dinner Party: ‘Prelude To Ecstasy’

1: Iron And Wine: ‘Light Verse’

From collages to embroidery and paintings, Sam Beam – aka Iron And Wine – usually creates each of his album covers in a different medium, and the artwork for his seventh record, Light Verse, is no different. Appearing like a collaged screenprint in cobalt ink, the image depicts sky, butterflies and a figure in freefall – guitar in hand, of course. It’s right up there with previous Iron And Wine classics, among them the sleeves for The Shepherd’s Dog and Our Endless Numbered Days, and makes for an ethereal beauty among the best album covers of 2024.

Designer: Sam Beam

Artwork Iron And Wine: ‘Light Verse’

Original article: 3 April 2024

Updated: 2 July 2024

Check out the best reissues of 2024.

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