And so, it has been decided which were the twelve best British albums released between July 2011 and September 2012. Yesterday afternoon, Lauren Laverne took to a stage at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden to deliver this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist, whittled down from over 250 entries.
On the list, there are the usual lone jazz and folk albums, though there are notable absences of any pop or electronic music at a time when both genres are arguably booming. Plus, as usual, there’s not the slightest sniff of any metal or punk. Though it may actually be that these genres are all under-represented due to a lack of entries rather than any snub from the judges – the fact that there were about 250 entries means that the vast majority of British albums released in the last fourteen months were not put forward.
Amongst the nominees, pre-announcement bookies’ favourites to win Alt-J appeared as expected, though William Hill has now put Plan B and Richard Hawley in the lead, giving both odds of 4/1 to take the £20,000 prize in November. Alt-J are joint second, along with Django Django at 5/1, no odds go further than 10/1 at this stage. Rupert Adams of William Hill told CMU: “This has been a year of musical excellence with these albums representing a diverse range of styles from UK artists. This quality is reflected in the closeness of the odds we’ve given to the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize ‘Albums Of The Year’ – every album here could be a winner”.
Meanwhile chairman of the Mercury judging panel, Simon Frith, added: “This year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist showcases a wonderful variety of musical voices, emotions and ambitions. There are eight debut albums on the list and four albums from more established artists. The sheer range of music here celebrates the abiding ability of British musicians to find new ways to explore traditional themes of love and loss while making an exhilarating soundtrack for life in 2012″.
Also commenting on the list yesterday was HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo, who told CMU: “This has got to be one of the most open Mercury fields we’ve seen for a while. Quite a few of the nominees have a genuine shout of winning, so there’s a chance we could have another Antony And The Johnsons moment, with the spotlight shining on something quite new and leftfield, rather than an Elbow one, when an act that’s been bubbling under for a while goes mainstream in a big way”.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at The Roundhouse in London on 1 Nov.
And here’s that shortlist in full:
Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Django Django – Django Django
Field Music – Plumb
Jessie Ware – Devotion
Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Plan B – Ill Manors
Richard Hawley – Standing At The Sky’s Edge
Roller Trio – Roller Trio
Sam Lee – Ground Of Its Own
The Maccabees – Given To The Wild
So, now you’ve seen it, why not revisit CMU Editor Andy Malt’s earlier look at the top 20 contenders for this year’s shortlist.