Best Album Covers of the 90s

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Indieground's collection of the best album covers of the 90s, the most interesting examples of graphic design to understand the mood and taste of an era.

In this series on album covers we are researching the most memorable album covers in the last half-century of music history. This episode collects the best album covers of the 90s, the first decade we truly lived. Differently from other decades, the 90s were an era full of so many musical styles – from Grunge to Gangsta Rap, from Trip-hop to Brit Pop, and the emergence of Boy Bands and Teen Pop. The 90s were unique, not dominated by a single genre but rather a mix of cultures, fashion, and movements that offered a lot of space for individual expression.

90s Album Covers Selected for their Graphic Design (and great music)

When it comes to graphic design, 90s’ album artworks often used cliches, such as images of babies, dogs, or traditional illustrations. Yet, within this imagery, certain album covers emerged with outstanding design, making a lasting impact on the music world and securing their place in history. Here they are!

Green Day, Dookie - 1994

Green Day, Dookie

Green Day’s Dookie album cover from 1994 packs a punch with its detailed, comic book art explosion. The cover reflects the album’s punk sound, with the band’s name boldly tagged atop, capturing the rebellious spirit of the album.

Built to Spill, Perfect From Now On - 1997

Built to spill, best album covers of the 90s

Built to Spill’s Perfect From Now On from 1997 features abstract, rough-hewn sketches over a moody color palette. The band’s name and album title are etched sharply across, complementing the enigmatic art that teases the album’s indie rock depth.

Aerosmith, Nine Lives - 1997

Nine Lives, Aerosmith

This 90’s album cover shows a cat-man center stage in a whirl of circus chaos. Aerosmith’s winged logo crowns the scene, with Nine Lives in sharp focus, anticipating the album’s edgy rock vibe.

Air, Moon Safari - 1998

Air, Moon Safari Best Album Covers of the 90s

Reflecting the music’s cool, spacey vibe Air’s Moon Safari from 1998 features silhouetted figures against a soft, patchwork of colors. This album cover counts on a minimalist design with stencil-like portraits, representing the album’s smooth electronic sound.

Björk, Post - 1995

indieblog best album covers 90s 05

One of the best album covers of the 90s, Björk’s ‘Post’ from 1995 shows her image against a backdrop of expressionist digital art. The contrast of her stark white attire and the intense gaze beneath a pink halo makes the strength of this artwork.

Daft Punk, Homework - 1997

Daft Punk, Homework best album covers 1990s

One of the top albums of the 90s, Homework cover was conceived by Daft Punk and photographed by artist and film producer Nicolas Hidiroglou. Bold red letters on a black background mirror the album’s revolutionary electronic sound, presenting a clear, futuristic aesthetic.

Massive Attack, Mezzanine - 1998

Mezzanine, Massive Attack

Massive Attack’s Mezzanine from 1998 sports a brooding beetle against a white background. Its stark simplicity hints at the album’s deep, layered trip-hop beats, with the band’s name and title cleanly imposed, suggesting the music’s introspective intensity.

Massive Attack, Protection - 1994

Massive Attack, Protection - 1994​

One more Massive Attack in our list of best albums of the 90s, this time Protection from 1994. The album cover presents a minimal, abstract artwork with shadowy figures and geometric shapes. The subdued color palette and clean font mirror the album’s smooth, haunting trip-hop rhythms.

Neil Young, Harvest Moon - 1992

Neil Young, Harvest Moon - 1992​

Featuring a serene, nocturnal landscape Neil Young’s album artwork, with its soft hues and silhouette of the artist in nature, echoes the album’s mellow, acoustic tunes. The top 90s album cover is complemented by an elegant serif typeface for Young’s name and album title.

Green Day, Nimrod - 1997

Green Day, Nimrod top 1990s albums

Green Day’s Nimrod from 1997 features duotone portraits with bold, overprinted yellow circles obscuring faces. The distressed, typographic treatment of the band’s name adds a raw edge, reflecting the album’s punchy, defiant punk tracks.

Nirvana, Nevermind - 1991

best albums 1990s

One of the most iconic album covers ever, Nirvana’s Nevermind from 1991, with its underwater baby and a dangling dollar, became iconic and controversial, and was the objects of recent legal disputes. The straightforward font contrasts with the complex symbolism, embodying the album’s grunge essence and the band’s critique of consumerism.

Pink Floyd, The Division Bell - 1994

best album covers of the 90s

One of the most enigmatic album covers of the 1990s, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell presents two large metallic heads in profile, facing each other against a dusky sky. The stark imagery and distant castle create a sense of contemplation and dialogue.

Radiohead, Ok Computer - 1997

Radiohead, Ok Computer top albums od the 90s

Featuring a disjointed highway scene, Ok Computer’s album cover goes over the theme of modern alienation. The white-on-blue color scheme and scattered text match the music’s technological unease and complexity.

Red Hot Chilly Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magic - 1991

top album covers 1990s

“Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik contrasts stark band portraits with a single central rose, reflecting the album’s raw mix of funk and rock. The band’s name and title are set in plain, bold text, matching the music’s straightforward intensity.

Fugazi, Red Medicine - 1995

Fugazi, Red Medicine - 1995​

Fugazi’s Red Medicine from 1995 displays a grungy, abstract mix of textures with a perforated overlay. The album’s title emerges in understated type, complementing the cover’s raw, industrial feel, mirroring the album’s experimental punk essence.

Elliott Smith, XO - 1998

best album covers of the 1990s
Elliott Smith’s ‘XO’ from 1998 overlays intimate, candid Polaroid shots over a hazy studio scene, conveying a sense of personal storytelling that accompanies the complexity of the music’s indie-folk narratives.. The album’s title and Smith’s name are subtly included.

Sonic Youth, Goo - 1990

sonic youth goo 1990 album cover

Sonic Youth’s Goo from 1990 is one of the most famous cover albums of the 90s, featuring a stark black-and-white comic strip style, with two cool characters upfront. The art’s edgy simplicity complements the band’s name in quirky type, mirroring the album’s alternative rock soul and its raw, cutting-edge sound.

Tricky, Maxinquaye - 1995

best album art 90s

Tricky’s Maxinquaye from 1995 uses a rustic, textured crimson backdrop, giving a tactile feel to the cover. The band’s name overlays in bold, with a font that cuts through the center, reflecting the album’s innovative trip-hop beats and its deep, haunting musical landscape.

Pinkerton, Weezer - 1996

Pinkerton, Weezer - 1996​

Weezer’s Pinkerton from 1996 features a classic Japanese woodblock print, setting a tranquil, snowy village scene. The artwork’s traditional aesthetic contrasts with the band’s modern rock sound, and the album’s name is handwritten, adding a personal touch to the timeless art.

Ride, Nowhere - 1990

Ride, Nowhere best 90s album covers

1990 Ride’s Nowhere features an undulating wave, conveying a sense of motion and depth. The band’s name and album title appear in simple, unobtrusive type, harmonizing with the cover’s cool, subdued palette.

Green Day, Insomniac - 1995

Green Day, Insomniac

Insomniac by Green Day features a cover that is a chaotic collage of surreal and disparate images, invoking restlessness and agitation. The art is reminiscent of a disturbed dream or a mind unable to rest, filled with vibrant, contrasting scenes that range from the whimsical to the unsettling. This visual dissonance complements the album’s raw, energetic punk sound and lyrical themes of disaffection and anxiety.

De La Soul, De La Soul Is Dead - 1991

Best Album Covers of the 90s

The cover for De La Soul Is Dead by De La Soul contrasts the vivacity of blooming flowers against the finality of an overturned flowerpot. This imagery reflects the album’s theme of challenging and overturning the status quo. The stark, stenciled font of the band’s name, along with the muted colors, suggests a rejection of their playful past and a move towards more complex, mature subject matter.

Massive Attack, Blue Lines - 1991

Massive Attack, Blue Lines - 1991​

Blue Lines by Massive Attack is characterized by its minimalistic design featuring the iconic flame hazard symbol. The stark, bold text against the red diamond-shaped warning sign on a textured background conveys a sense of danger and urgency, hinting at the album’s groundbreaking and incendiary approach to music, which ignited the trip-hop genre.

Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See - 1993

Top Album art 1990s

So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star is a study in understated elegance. The textural, monochromatic purple background, overlaid with a faint, intricate filigree pattern, suggests depth and mystery. This subtle design choice mirrors the band’s ethereal sound and the introspective quality of their music, inviting the listener into a dreamlike state that the album’s title alludes to.

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless - 1991

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless - 1991​

Loveless by My Bloody Valentine is an abstract blend of blurred hues, primarily in passionate pink and red tones. This visual represents the album’s shoegaze sound, characterized by its lush textures and layers of distorted guitars. The obscured imagery reflects the music’s hazy, dreamlike quality, and the merging colors convey the intense, yet elusive emotional resonance of the album.

Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral - 1994

Best album covers of the 90s

The artwork for The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails conveys a sense of decay and disintegration through its abstract, mottled texture and smears of dark, blood-like stains. The cover’s aesthetic reflects the album’s themes of destruction and the exploration of the darker sides of the psyche. The visceral imagery and earthy tones set against the stark black botanical silhouette resonate with the album’s intense and industrial soundscapes.

Nirvana, In Utero - 1993

1990s best album covers

In Utero by Nirvana features a cover that starkly juxtaposes an anatomical model with angelic wings against a cracked, parchment-like background. This striking imagery reflects the raw and unfiltered nature of the album’s content, exploring themes of birth, mortality, and the human condition. The transparent figure against the simplistic backdrop encapsulates the band’s stripped-back approach to their final studio album, both haunting and deeply introspective.

Pink Floyd, Pulse - 1995

Pink Floyd, Pulse - 1995​

This album cover is a fantastical visual journey that’s often highlighted among the best album covers of the 90s, blending elements of nature with cosmic and surreal imagery. The eye suggests a deep connection between the macrocosm and microcosm, reflecting the album’s expansive and explorative themes. The rich details and colors invite the viewer to contemplate the interconnectedness of all things, resonant with the 90s push towards a more profound, collective consciousness in music and art.

Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine - 1992

indieblog best album covers 90s 29 1

This cover, frequently recognized as one of the best album covers of the 90s, is a stark embodiment of the band’s political message. The iconic image of Thích Quảng Đức’s self-immolation, captured in 1963, symbolizes extreme protest and sacrifice. The starkness of the black-and-white photo serves as a visceral reminder of the power of resistance, reflecting the band’s unyielding commitment to their message and their explosive musical presence.

Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - 1994

Top Album Covers 90s

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain‘s cover by Pavement, surely one of the best album covers of the 90s, presents a collage that seems to mimic the band’s eclectic and lo-fi aesthetic. The handwritten text and roughly pasted images create a DIY feel, much like the band’s approach to music. It’s an assemblage of seemingly disjointed elements that coalesce into a coherent whole, mirroring the album’s diverse soundscapes from the rawness of indie rock to the introspection of lo-fi ballads.

A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory - 1991

A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory - 1991

The cover of The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest is a visual echo of the groundbreaking sound within. The stark contrast of neon outlines against the black backdrop symbolizes the vibrant, layered beats and sharp lyrical delivery that defined the album. The silhouette of the double bass reflects the jazz influences that the group famously incorporated, signifying a fusion of tradition and innovation. This cover not only captures the essence of the album but also encapsulates the boldness of early ’90s hip-hop.

Metallica, Load - 1996

Metallica, Load - 1996

The cover art for Metallica’s “Load” is as intense and provocative as the music within the album. The use of a blood and semen mixture between two sheets of plexiglass, photographed by Andres Serrano, creates an abstract yet visceral image. The fiery reds and dark recesses suggest a churning emotional depth, symbolizing the band’s exploration of more personal and varied thematic content. This polarizing cover reflects the band’s shift in style, embodying the raw and transformative energy of their mid-90s phase.

Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell - 1993

Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell - 1993

Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell by Meat Loaf is a depiction of horror & fantasy, with a motorcyclist charging out of the sky and a demonic figure looming over a dystopian cityscape. The artwork’s intense colors and dramatic imagery encapsulate the theatrical rock opera style of the album.

The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - 1995

Best Album covers of the 90s

The artwork for The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” is a timeless depiction of surreal whimsy. The central figure, reminiscent of a renaissance painting, sits atop a star, symbolizing the journey through the vast emotional spectrum captured in the album. The use of vintage celestial bodies in the backdrop gives it a dreamlike quality, suggesting a cosmic odyssey through the band’s expansive musical landscape.

Blur, Parklife - 1994

Best Album Covers of the 90s

Parklife cover by Blur captures the essence of British culture with its snapshot of greyhound racing. The choice of imagery reflects the album’s themes of everyday life and social commentary. The bold yellow typography of Blur’s logo contrasts sharply with the natural tones of the scene, drawing the viewer’s eye and emphasizing the band’s identity amidst the chaos of the race. This cover is emblematic of the ’90s aesthetic, combining a sense of dynamism with a distinctively British edge.

Peter Gabriel, Us - 1992

Peter Gabriel, Us - 1992

Peter Gabriel’s “Us” album cover is a striking visual feast, showcasing the artist in a dynamic pose against a red backdrop. The blurred motion effect captures the essence of the album’s exploration of emotional turmoil and personal change. The stark contrast and saturated colors create a sense of raw energy and movement, embodying the intense and passionate themes that run throughout the album’s tracks. It’s a bold statement that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the early ’90s.

Jane's Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual - 1990

Jane's Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual - 1990

Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane’s Addiction is a vivid tableau that reflects the band’s eclectic and provocative style. This assemblage of figures and artifacts creates a shrine-like appearance, suggesting themes of devotion and excess. The central sculpture depicts intertwined figures in a dramatic pose, hinting at the album’s exploration of relationships and human connections. The surrounding eclectic items add a layer of personal and cultural references, indicating a complex narrative behind the music.

Ramones, Acid Eaters - 1993

best album covers of the 90s

The album cover of Acid Eaters is a vibrant homage to the psychedelic era, reflecting the Ramones’ foray into covering 1960s classics. The intense color palette and distorted imagery resonate with the mind-altering themes associated with psychedelic rock. The band’s portraits, warped and melting into abstract shapes, suggest the transformational experience of the music within. The aggressive font juxtaposes the era’s free-spirited connotations with the Ramones’ punk rock essence. 

Santana, Supernatural - 1999

Santana, Supernatural - 1999

The album cover of Acid Eaters is a vibrant homage to the psychedelic era, reflecting the Ramones’ foray into covering 1960s classics. The intense color palette and distorted imagery resonate with the mind-altering themes associated with psychedelic rock. The band’s portraits, warped and melting into abstract shapes, suggest the transformational experience of the music within. The aggressive font juxtaposes the era’s free-spirited connotations with the Ramones’ punk rock essence. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication - 1999

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication - 1999.

Californication album cover by the Red Hot Chili Peppers uses a surrealistic approach, with an image of a swimming pool that transitions into a sea of lava, against the calmness of an ocean backdrop. This powerful visual metaphor might suggest the allure and danger of the Californian dream, where the idyllic life is juxtaposed with the state’s fiery underbelly. The cover reflects the album’s themes of hedonism, melancholy, and the darker side of Hollywood’s glamour.

Blink-182, Enema of the State - 1999

Blink-182, Enema of the State - 1999

The album cover of “Enema of the State” by Blink-182 is iconic for its provocative portrayal of a model dressed as a nurse, symbolizing the band’s pop-punk attitude and humorous take on provocative themes. The cover’s playful yet edgy image captures the spirit of the late ’90s, appealing to the rebellious youth culture. The nurse’s uniform with the exaggerated red cross and the band’s logo playfully pushes the boundaries of mainstream acceptability, mirroring the album’s energetic and irreverent sound.

Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles - 1999

Best Album covers pf the 1990s

The cover for Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles features a stark silhouette of a person raising a clenched fist, a universal symbol of resistance and defiance. Set against a backdrop that resembles a wall of urban decay, the image is bold and confrontational, resonating with the band’s politically charged lyrics and aggressive sound. The graffiti-style lettering of the album title adds to the aesthetic of rebellion and grassroots activism. This cover art encapsulates the band’s message of standing against systemic oppression and social injustice.

Michael Jackson, Dangerous - 1991

Michael Jackson, Dangerous - 1991

The album cover for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” is a mesmerizing collage of surreal imagery and opulent symbolism. Designed by Mark Ryden, it’s packed with intricate details that demand close inspection. The central image of Jackson’s eyes peering through a jeweled frame is both haunting and magnetic, drawing the viewer into a fantastical world. The surrounding tableaux, filled with historical and allegorical figures, suggest a narrative of power, mystique, and transformation, fitting for an artist known for his groundbreaking music and transformative public persona. This cover is a visual feast, much like the album’s rich and diverse musical landscape.

Ol' Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version - 1995

Ol' Dirty Bastard, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version - 1995

This album cover is a bold statement in graphic design, utilizing the familiar format of a welfare benefit card, which immediately sets a tone of gritty realism and social commentary. The choice to use a government-issued ID card as the main image is provocative, questioning the relationship between identity, societal status, and artistry. It’s a clever play on the artist’s persona, known for his raw and unfiltered style, both musically and personally.

AC/DC, Ballbreaker - 1995

famous album covers 1990s

The album cover of AC/DC’s Ballbreaker is an electric illustration of raw power and energy, emblematic of the band’s hard rock identity. The central figure, illuminated by a dramatic bolt of lightning, reinforces the band’s explosive sound. The imposing architecture and gothic statues evoke a sense of grandeur, with the band’s iconic logo looming large overhead. The cover art is a dynamic fusion of fantasy and rock ‘n’ roll attitude, encapsulating the intense musical force that is AC/DC.

Talk Talk, Laughing Stock - 1991

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Laughing Stock showcases a surrealist tree brimming with exotic birds, a visual metaphor for the album’s exploration of sound and silence. The stark contrast of the vibrant avian life against the twilight hues evokes the album’s theme of beauty emerging from darkness. The graphic design plays with the juxtaposition of nature and dream, mirroring the band’s experimental and ethereal auditory landscapes. This cover is not just an image but a gateway into the enigmatic world crafted within the album’s tracks.

Best album covers of the 90s.. and more!

Album covers of the past have a lot to tell about graphic design styles, the music, the culture and the taste of a decade. Here we saw some of the best album artwork of the 1990s, but there is a lot more to discover. If you are hungry for more inspiration, check out other decades that will sparkle your imagination: 

 

You’ll be able to find an endless flow of famous artwork, album covers that have made history of both music and graphic design!

Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

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