Neo-Psychedelia: 8 Album Artworks that Prove Neil Krug’s Prowess
If you’re a true child of alternative music, you’ve probably seen already the iconic black and white cover of Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence. If your taste goes deeper, maybe you’ve also seen the artwork cover for Tame Impala’s recent album, The Slow Rush. Or maybe also Cage The Elephant’s recent album, Social Cues. Have you noticed a pattern with the visuals? Those are all artwork covers created by Neil Krug.
Neil Krug is an American visual artist, photographer, and director based in Los Angeles, California. At 36, he established himself as one of the music industry’s most sought-after photographers and art directors. He is known for creating psychedelic and cinematic album covers for concept-forward artists like Tame Impala, Lana Del Rey and Weyes Blood. He knows how to evoke the concept, theme and aura of a music in photographs, from expressionist art to anime. Because of him, the music of some of today’s most known artists have faces and visual identity.
To prove his prowess in imagery and visuals, here are eight of Neil Krug’s finest works to date:
The album artwork of Lana Del Rey’s third studio album, Ultraviolence, was shot by Neil Krug. It was the very first photo that he took during the photoshoot, among thousands of other photos. That’s how you know how precise and good he is. In a glorious black and white, the photo feels so understated yet very haunting. Indeed a perfect match to the psychedelic and blues rock music of the album.
The other images from the photoshoot were utilized for the content of the physical album and cover artwork for the singles. The singles off the album were West Coast, Shades of Cool, Ultraviolence and Brooklyn Baby. All of the images were all either in black and white or heavily contrasted and tinted polaroid-esque shot. It certainly evokes the aura of dramatic and psychedelic film.
The Slow Rush
Neil Krug, in an interview, says that Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker was adamant about traveling to shoot the cover for The Slow Rush, so they went to Namibia, in Southwestern Africa. The place, known for abandoned mansions in the middle of a desert, became the setting for the album’s artwork. The crew had to use leaf-blowers in order to erase the footsteps in the send and capture the perfect shots. Needless to say, Krug was able to capture amazing images, reflecting the psychedelic disco music of the album.
Krug also shot the cover artworks for the singles of the album. The singles were namely Borderline, It Might Be Time, Posthumous Forgiveness, Lost in Yesterday and Is It True. All of which featured images of landscapes from Namibia.
Unpeeled is the second live album by the American rock band Cage the Elephant. The album features 18 curated songs from past albums and three cover versions. Neil Krug shot the image for the artwork cover of the album. It features a contrasted image of the model Kaiman Kazazian, along with a knife with a pierced slice of orange—representing ‘unpeeled’. The image is luminous in soft pink and orange and tinted in soft filter to embody Krug’s usual theme of psychedelia.
Being satisfied with former collaboration with the photographer, Cage The Elephant took Neil Krug again to give visuals for their recent album, Social Cues. The cover artwork of the album features the band’s vocalist, Matthew Schultz. He is wearing a red latex bodysuit and mask, paired with a cowboy hat and flower—also contrasted in the blue tile background. It captures the emotions of the album: fleeting pleasure, flashes of violence, estrangement, guilt and melancholy.
With the photoshoot, Krug was also able to provide cover artworks for the singles of the album: Goodbye and Night Running. Much like the usual Neil Krug visuals, both photos exude psychedelia paired with overly contrasted images in popping filtered colors.
And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Neil Krug also provided visuals for the fifth studio album of soft rock singer Weyes Blood, And in the Dark, Hearts Aglow. The cover artwork of the album features Weyes Blood in beautiful luminescence in the dark, along with a glowing heart. The stunning image that is very faithful to the name of the album itself, evokes the ethereality of its music.
Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
Needless to say, Neil Krug has become the unofficial depicter of Lana Del Rey’s music. They have already collaborated countless of times, from magazine covers to music artworks. Their recent collaboration is for Lana’s upcoming ninth studio album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. The album has five versions of cover artwork for the album, available for different exclusives. All of those feature images of Lana Del Rey in the bedroom, in a seeming 1960s pulp fiction filter.
Krug, in an Instragram post, defined that the photographs are “collection of scenes made in personal spaces where time ceased, and the muse arrived to guide the work.” He also stated that they kept it analog and finite, getting everything in one take – a challenge he gladly undertook.
One of Neil Krug’s earlier works in the music industry is the visuals for Bat for Lashes’ fourth studio album, The Bride. The album cover features the vocalist Natasha Khan, wearing a wedding gown, placed and contrasted in soft-palette of green gradient. The other visuals within the album features the same wedding gown-donning Natasha, lounging in a vintage car. These images complimented the Baroque pop music of the album, and the personality and art direction of Natasha.
Neil Krug doesn’t only cater to alternative and rock musicians, his visuals can also cater the Dance Pop music! During 2012, he provided the album cover for Scissor Sister’s fourth studio album, Magic Hour. Unlike the usual psychedelic, dark and filtered images of his works, the visuals for Magic Hour evokes more of a surreal modern take to depict the upbeat pop of the music. The album artwork features reflective sphere in the middle of a desert, surrounded by zebras. It looks a bit weird but really cool and modern.
Xian Oquendo is a free-spirited writer and camera-person from Manila. His passion connects facets of poetry and visuals. Whether inside the cinema or in the groove of the city's streets, he is always in the pursuit of the transcendental.