Considered to be the most prestigious music award in the UK, the Mercury Music Prize is presented each year to the British act or artist which the judges believe has released the most exceptional album of the previous twelve months. Previous winners include PJ Harvey, Dizzee Rascal, The xx and last year’s champions, Alt-J. As always, opinions were divided last month when the shortlist was announced, with many expressing disappointment over the exclusion of albums from London Grammar, Tom Odell, King Krule, CHVRCHES, and many more. Here, editors from The Edge give their opinions on the albums they’d like to see win the award when it is announced on Wednesday.
Arctic Monkeys- AM
Arctic Monkeys have steadily cemented themselves as one of the most successful bands of our generation. Their fifth album, AM marks a decided shift in the band’s style that was hinted at in their previous record Suck It and See. AM is a smouldering, sultry offering that explores the heights of Alex Turner’s new found falsetto vocals and lyrics and – at times – explores the darker side of the inner psyche. The album still retains Turner’s undeniable talent for crafting words into poetry, whilst exploring a more mature sound. Clearly influenced by their new found LA lifestyle, the boys bring a certain glamour to the album without sacrificing their undeniably British sound. Perhaps more importantly though, this album has seen the introduction of Turner’s new found talent for seductive hip movements, making their live performances all the more mesmerising. His hips truly do not lie. Grace Pattle
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
It’s dark, it’s ambient, and it’s drenched in emotion. Immunity is an all-encompassing experience of jarring rhythms and perturbed bass bound against natural, organic melodies. Structured to follow the highs and lows of a night out, the record builds towards the hypnotic, crunching climax of ‘Collider’ before slowing down towards more melancholy moments. Sombre keys begin ‘Abandon Window’ which sounds almost ecclesiastical with profound distortion resembling a ghostly choir, whilst the closing title track brings the album to a stunningly beautiful, conclusive end. There’s no doubt that this work of British innovation is certainly deserving of the prize. Howell Davies
Foals – Holy Fire
It’s a travesty that Foals haven’t already won the Mercury Prize. Their seminal debut, Antidotes, wasn’t even nominated; second album Total Life Forever was recognised, but lost out in 2010 to The xx. Now Holy Fire is a hotly tipped nominee. In places, the album appears to represent a shift towards a heavier sound, introduced in ‘Prelude’ and particularly relevant in terms of first single ‘Inhaler’. Crucially, they have maintained the musical intricacies and enigmatic vocals of their earlier efforts, and the big dance tracks are still there – ‘My Number’ was the soundtrack to the summer festival season. But the strengths in this deserving album lie in the quieter, more introspective pieces which centre on Yannis Philippakis’s claustrophobic vocals and build to ecstatic climaxes; take time to listen to ‘Bad Habit’ and ‘Late Night’. Hopefully this will be Foals’ year. Cat Olley
James Blake – Overgrown
The latest effort from James Blake oozes electronic brilliance through sheer simplicity. Lead single ‘Retrograde‘ – instantly recognisable from Blake’s opening vocals – set a high standard before the release of the full LP, Overgrown, in April 2013. With guest collaborations from electronic producer Brian Eno and Grammy Award winning rapper and producer RZA and the latest single ‘Life Round Here’, the album demonstrates a clear growth in Blake from his stunning self-titled debut. Being considered for the Mercury Prize this year feels just right for James Blake. Not necessarily a household name – yet – but still a name on the lips of many. My money is on James Blake for the Mercury Prize. Megan Downing
Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon
Laura Mvula’s debut album Sing to the Moon is a record that many people overlooked when it was released in March. Expertly crafted with beautiful cinematic orchestration mixing with her gorgeous vocals, it is a completely stunning and unexpected offering from the emerging artist. It’s easy to see the host of influences Mvula has, from classical music – she graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with a degree in composition – to soul. Each track embraces a host of different musical ideas, ranging from her full, heavily harmonised orchestrations to the huge catchy pop ideas and riffs, which are especially obvious in single ‘Green Garden’. With the best odds on Paddy Power (currently standing at 11/4), Mvula truly is a favourite to win, and I believe it’d be a travesty if the dazzling debut doesn’t take the prize. Hannah Mylrea
The full shortlist of nominees is available here. The winner of the Mercury Prize 2013 will be announced live on More4 at 9.30pm on 30th October. The full Awards Show will be televised on Channel 4 at 11pm on 31st October.
Let us know your pick in the comments!