This Ain't No Disco: New Wave Album Covers
By Jennifer McKnight Trontz
Lacking focus, organization and in some cases clean artwork, This Ain't No Disco comes off more as a pet project undertaken by a New Wave nerd who badly wants to legitimize her 20-year-old record collection by turning the album covers into objets d'art. That's not to say that the cover art featured within wasn't (and isn't) largely breathtaking in its originality and artistic adventurousness. Moving beyond the drippy psychedelia of the '60s and the paranoid Hipgnosis futurism of the '70s, album art in the '80s was as unabashedly retro (see all the sci-fi and Art Deco references) as it was blindingly futuristic (all those neon colors and freaky fonts!). But Trontz seems incapable of grasping any of these larger themes and therefore this book is just a muddled hodgepodge of album covers, all seemingly unrelated to one another. There's no way to pick up on stylistic trends or the signature methods of certain artists when the book is so haphazardly arranged; often a spread will feature three covers by different musicians (Roxy Music, Bruce Woolley and Falco, for instance) in three different years (1980, 1979, 1982, respectively) with no visual link, all by different artists and photographers. Adding insult to injury, a good portion of the artwork was taken from scans of actual, worn-out album covers, which means lots of ringwear and corner creases detracting from the visual impact. With no real text to contextualize any of the material, the book is more like a quick scan of the '80s bin at your local used record store than a serious, artistic look at this bold era in album graphics.