Sufjan Stevens hates Helvetica Narrow, Savages' use of that font

Sufjan Stevens hates Helvetica Narrow, Savages' use of that font

Sufjan Stevens isn’t a huge fan of Savages, or, rather, the font on the cover of Savages’ debut album. Stevens posted a reasonably intense diatribe on his Tumblr about the band’s use of Helvetica Narrow on the Silence Yourself art, saying that the use of the font is “a very uncool typographical blunder” and that the “weird italics (unnecessary affectation, and very un-British), cramped leaning (totally unforgivable), and unnecessary line break” are all pretty heinous too. Says Stevens, “Who the Fraggle designed this?”

Though he went on in another blog post to say that he loves the band and “will forever sing [their] anthems to my children’s children,” Stevens also muses extensively on the band’s use of all caps. “ Says Stevens,

"Case in point: the inherent democracy of ONE CASE (every letter equally measured) forgoes the political hierarchy of upper/lower class. Am I reading too much into this? The band has somehow achieved mystery and modesty in brash exclamations about “silence” (resonance of Buddhism?) rendered via typographical faux pas (all caps=yelling). (What would E.E. Cummings do?) Context is everything: punk sermons situated beside a muted black and white photo (evoking the band in stillness, slightly pissed off) provoke visual tension and/or situational irony, a reflection of the band’s sound and style (silence vs. noise). Restrained Aggression. Aggressive Restraint. Clean lines, crisp utility, minimalism, functionality. These are also the qualities of a good font, Helvetica being the supreme deity, and Futura Medium a minor prophet. (Times New Roman may as well be the air we breathe.) I recall in writing workshops the constant admonishment to allow your prose to disappear, so that the narrative became an “illiterate experience,” transcending the text itself, magnifying in ether (the magnitude of all things communicated by nothingness, i.e. silence). To accomplish this on the page (or in a song, or on an album cover) is one thing; to live it is nothing less than enlightenment. Thank you, Savages, for the urgent all caps homily (to “recompose" ourselves in silence)."

So, yeah. Sufjan Stevens likes fonts.