Back in the olden days when computers were bigger than a garden shed and had the processing power of a digital watch, typefaces like this were always used to signify THE FUTURE and anything sexily high-tech and space-age. That type style was based on a font called E13B designed in the 1950s by the banking industry to be read by computers as part of the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition system, and you still see those funny-looking numbers on the bottom of your cheques today. The idea that a machine could “read” something must have been quite exciting at the time and a sign of how groovy the future was going to be so no wonder it was used in this fashion.
Forgive me for getting all font-nerd on you but it’s because I am one that I find it rather amusing to see it used on this cover which projects a very Tomorrow’s World-style optimism about the coming decade and seems to be looking forward to an era of robots and jet packs for everyone. Of course what we actually got was an oil crisis, strikes, inflation, riots, and brown flares — and I thought The Economist were supposed to know stuff like that.
There seems to be something of a soft rock trend in American indie music at the moment with bands like Destroyer and Gayngs making records that sound an awful lot like Avalon-era Roxy Music with pinches of Steely Dan and Sade at their softest and most Lite FM. Now comes Brooklyn duo Acrylics and their slinky single “Nightwatch” which isn’t a million miles away from a 1980s Fleetwood Mac chilling out in a wine bar. In case you’re wondering, I think that’s a good thing.