Features I by I 11.09.13

Everything you need to know about the 2013 Mercury Music Prize shortlist

Page 1 of 13

The Mercury brujos have spoken.

The names of the 12 artists joshing to bag popular music’s biggest albatross are out – and, as ever, it’s a brackish cocktail of star names, young guns, hopeful laptop botherers and inexplicable googlies.

In order to make the next month-and-a-half of chin-stroking and odds-slashing that little bit easier, we’ve assembled a comprehensive guide to the dirty dozen vying to following in Alt-J’s dainty footsteps: who they are, how they’ll do, whether they’re any cop, and what unique truths they tell us about the British cultural condition in 2013 (disclaimer: not much).

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 1/13)

ARCTIC MONKEYS
AM

Synopsis: Wordy Sheffield rockers belch out their most acclaimed album since their prize-winning debut.

Previous years’ equivalent: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)

Strengths: The album scored the big 10/10 in NME, which has to count for something, and they’re no strangers to the Mercury panel having already notched up two nominations – one of which ended in a win.

Weaknesses: Mercury have only once before given the prize to a previous winner (PJ Harvey).

Chances of winning: Slim, see you in another few years guys.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Working on their sixth album, probably out in the desert somewhere, again.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 2/13)

JAMES BLAKE
Overgrown

Synopsis: “Post-dubstep” troubadour sidesteps sophomore slump.

Previous Years’ Equivalent: His self-titled album, naturally.

Strengths: Tighter, more expansive songwriting than his beloved debut; managed to score Brian Eno and RZA as collaborators.

Weaknesses: Still too young to deserve a “payback” win after being passed over in 2011.

Chance Of Winning: He’s more likely to sing on Drake’s new album than to take home an award.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Making a proper follow-up to that James Drake mash-up album.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 3/13)

DAVID BOWIE
The Next Day

Synopsis: Tin Machine frontman boldly strikes out with solo venture.

Previous years’ equivalent: Er, David Bowie – Heathen (2002)

Strengths: Odds-on favourite

Weaknesses: As that great 1997 OK Computer snub demonstrated, Mercury judges famously take a dim view of workflow diagrams.

Chances of winning: There’s every chance Bowie’s going home with a fancy trophy to polish. Which will give him something to do throughout 2014, when he definitely won’t be touring. Yep, absolutely no plans to tour at present. No touring here, thanks!

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Touring.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 4/13)

JAKE BUGG
Jake Bugg

Synopsis:An East Midlands Bob Dylan.”

Previous Years’ Equivalent: Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2010)

Strengths: Only 19, and the voters have a soft spot for the preternaturally gifted (e.g. Dizzee Rascal, the xx).

Weaknesses: Only 19, and shouldn’t claim to have ‘Seen It All’.

Chance Of Winning: Slim, and he doesn’t mind. Speaking of his Brit Award nod: “I don’t really need an award to inspire me to keep writing music and playing my songs.”

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Still feuding with One Direction.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 5/13)

DISCLOSURE
Settle

Synopsis: Bushy-tailed sprogs invent house music.

Previous years’ equivalent: The Chemical Brothers – Surrender (1999)

Strengths: The most successful dance crossover album in years; major critical cache; two 16-25 railcards between them.

Weaknesses:  Being involved in the the biggest abuse of public trust since Watergate might dampen their chances.

Chances of winning: Eminently punt-worthy.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Making pseudo-jack with Uncle Skream, probably.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 6/13)

FOALS
Holy Fire

Synopsis: Brit-rock poster boys shear their artsy tendencies.

Previous Years’ Equivalent: Their Total Life Forever (2010).

Strengths: A straight-ahead rock record with more overtly “experimental” flourishes than, say, the Arctic Monkeys album.

Weaknesses: Sounding more and more like U2.

Chance Of Winning: Bookies have upgraded them to marginal favorite.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Soundtracking the Entourage movie.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 7/13)

JON HOPKINS
Immunity 

Synopsis: Whimsical electronica boffin and occasional Eno collaborator discovers dance music and sort of nails it.

Previous years’ equivalent: Burial – Untrue (2008)

Strengths: Hopkins was nominated in 2011 for his collaboration with King Creosote Diamond Mine, so he’s already on the judges’ radars. Plus being mates with previous noms Bat For Lashes and Coldplay can’t hurt can it?

Weaknesses: Immunity teeters precariously on the precipice of becoming trendy musical wallpaper, and that’s the most dangerous thing about it.

Chances of winning: Don’t bet on it, instrumental albums have famously never done well at Mercury – Roni Size and Reprazent’s New Forms was as close as we’ve come and that had significantly more vocals than Immunity.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Back again, possibly along with Natasha Khan, who was recently seen helping out with the gorgeous ‘Garden’s Heart’.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 8/13)

LAURA MARLING
Once I Was An Eagle 

Synopsis: Widely appreciated folkie type tackles ‘mature’ themes, channels Dylan, the middle class nods in approval.

Previous years’ equivalent: KT Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope (2005)

Strengths: Out of her catalogue of four albums three have been nominated, and there’s little dispute that this particular one is her best yet.

Weaknesses: It doesn’t really feel like folk music’s year – look at the rest of the nominations, there’s nary a feather-capped troubadour in sight.

Chances of winning: It could go either way; she could simply be a serial nominee.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: It’s a safe bet to say that save a drastic stylistic shift, her fifth album, which she’s allegedly recording before Christmas, will rack her up a fourth nomination. Same time next year, Loz?

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 9/13)

LAURA MVULA
Sing To The Moon

Synopsis: Shaven-headed Brummie with orchestral ambitions and echoes of Nina Simone.

Previous years’ equivalent: Half Bat For Lashes – Two Suns (2007); half Martina Topley-Bird – Quixotic (2003).

Strengths: Cracking voice; more ideas per song than Jake Bugg can muster across a whole album.

Weaknesses: Rather dwarfed by its own conceit, Sing To The Moon thinks big – trumpets! harps! string crescendos! – but occasionally gets lost in the ornate scenery.

Chances of winning: In a fair contest, Mvula’s ability to match bold ideas with hummable choons would put her firmly in the running. But for pete’s sake, it’s the Mercury Prize! The judges listen to Alt-J!

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Holed up in an LA studio with Mark Ronson, plotting a Motown-flavoured comeback.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 10/13)

RUDIMENTAL
Home

Synopsis: Four Londoners unhappy at witnessing Pendulum’s extended hiatus take the same formula and manage to rope in help from U.S rappers Angel Haze, Wale and Childish Gambino.

Previous years’ equivalent: Roni Size & Reprazent – New Forms (1997)

Strengths: Errr… you could use the physical CD as a coaster and/or weapon?

Weaknesses: The songs; Wale.

Chances of winning: Entirely dependent on the judges’ enjoyment of cheap cocaine and payola.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Lying back in a swimming pool of Euros earned from sports show placements and playing packed out venues full of impressionable Australian tweens.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 11/13)

SAVAGES
Silence Yourself

Synopsis: Black-clad post-punk and no-wave ripoff act.

Previous Years’ Equivalent: The Horrors – Primary Colours (2009)

Strengths: Who doesn’t love Siouxsie Sioux?

Weaknesses: “They are like those people in pith helmets who used to dig up the bones of Tutankhamun.” – Adam Curtis

Chance Of Winning: Pretty good: they’ve ridden the hype wave this far, and voters can pat themselves on the back for voting for an all-woman band.

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Wondering why Pitchfork doesn’t call anymore.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 12/13)

VILLAGERS
Awayland

Synopsis: Rousing indie-folk with a Celtic heart and literary bent.

Previous years’ equivalent: That’ll be Villagers – Becoming A Jackal (2010) or any of the Marling-Mumford axis.

Strengths: Not your usual Magners-swilling, straw hat-wearing, deck shoe-wearing fake-folk – Conor O’Brien’s solo venture is imbued with a little more wit and poetry.

Weaknesses: Thoroughly inoffensive. After Alt-J’s people-pleasing win last year, the judges might fancy going slightly off-piste.

Chances of winning: O’Brien’s debut album was nominated three years back, but multiple Mercury nominees do tend to linger on the sidelines indefinitely (we see you, Radiohead, with your three nominations and zero wins).

Where they’ll be in a year’s time: Soundtracking a dozen marriage proposals at a boutique festival in south-west England.

Use your keyboard’s arrow keys or hit the prev / next arrows on your screen to turn pages (page 13/13)

Page 1 of 13
Latest

Latest

Share Tweet