Death Cab For Cutie
Look what we have here with us. The fartwork of Death Cab For Cutie's 2003 breakout album, Transatlanticism. Looks benign on the surface. But unbeknownst to you, an insidious message lurks beneath this cover.
The band's name and album title are in a serif-styled font, in a dark colour, and placed at the top of the image, balanced - one of the left and one on the right. This is Ben Gibbard telling you he takes his band seriously and he thinks they've got themselves on top of things.
But what's with the bird and the ball of red wool? The bird is a crow. He looks pissed off, for reasons that will soon be obvious, but who does he represent? Clearly, he represents DCFC's singer Ben Gibbard. The name "Ben" comes from "Benjamin", which is a Hebrew name meaning "son of the south". Gibbard longs to go southward, perhaps to Argentina, or to Africa, but he's stuck in a web of "Transatlanticism", a metaphor of going sideways without really going anywhere.
The red wool, then, represents the oppressive forces of left-wing elitism of the music industry. We know this because the wool is wrapping Gibbard the Crow and is stifling him from flying wheresoever he wishes. We also know this because in 2003, DCFC was signed to Barsuk Records but one year later, they would sign on to Atlantic Records. Hence, this record cover is Gibbard's way of saying that his band's trans-Atlantic signing is leaving him as pleased as a wound up crow.
The creased paper-like quality of the backdrop emphasises the fakery of the world he lives in and the soft focus at the bottom of the artwork where the wool and the bird's body is further reinforces that the focus is not on going south, where Ben, the son of the south, actually longs to be.
I am truly brilliant. All hail me.
Death Cab For Cutie - Death Of An Interior Decorator