Saturday, 12 February 2011

"She kicked and screamed while I held her throat"

Sinister title... Bear with me.

Our latest illustration project is a fantastic one - to design a CD cover (front and back) for music of our choice. The possibilities were endless, and the rules simple: no X-Factor.

I chose a well known band, but a lesser known triptych of songs, referred to by fans, and indeed the band themselves as "The Murder Trilogy". The band? The Killers.

"Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf", "Midnight Show", and "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" (featuring the line "She couldn't scream while I held her close", but often modified to the above post tiel by the lead singer) tell a chilling story of a jealous boyfriend who discovers his girlfriend is having an affair, and events take a turn for the worse, with him killing her. The details of how he comes to the point of killing her are sketchy (in true Brandon Flowers style the lyrics are mysterious and complex), but what little we can tell can be pulled out from the lyrics, which is where I began in terms of designing the sleeve for the trilogy.

"Bourbon" does what it says on the tin - the soon-to-be murderer discovers the soon-to-be victim's infidelity, and turns to alcohol, working himself into a drunken state.
"Midnight" is the least clear lyrically. Dark and fast-paced, if you weren't aware of its connection with the other tracks you wouldn't be sure of what it was describing, such is the open nature of the lyrics. Once you discover what exactly Flowers is singing about, you realise there's more to the lyric "I took my baby's breath/ Beneath the chandelier/ Of stars and atmosphere" than first thought.
"Jenny" then describes the murderer's interrogation by the police, but doesn't offer much more information on the murder itself. "It has something to do with water... But he didn't drown her" added Flowers helpfully  in an interview.

To keep with the mystery, I didn't want to give anything away on the cover, and my idea was to present a shelf (lifted from the title of "Bourbon") with Bourbon, a happy couple photo, and car keys (reference to "Midnight"'s "Drive faster boy" lyric) on it. On the reverse of the cover the bottle would be empty, the picture face down, and the keys gone. This creates the subtle change, and mystery that the songs portray.

I realise I've gone all fine art on this one, but I feel it will work better than sketching it out - real objects create a real outcome, and the lyrics in the songs chosen feel as though they're screaming for a some sort of real solution.

I'll sign off here, because to be honest I could talk about these songs all day. I'll post the finished artwork when it's done... I can practically hear the baited breath...
These shots are by no means finished - text has to be added, and I want to be able to add shadows and texture to the background.

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