Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 – A Preview

Posted by Dominic | October 30, 2013 | NEWS, Uncategorized


mercuryprize

Picture taken from Lauren Laverne’s Instagram account.

The nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder, which can only mean one thing – it’s almost the most magical time of the year. We’re talking, of course, about the Mercury Music Prize award ceremony, which is being held tonight at The Roundhouse in London. While there have been a few disgruntled whispers this year regarding the more commercial nature of the nominees (maybe because this year’s ceremony is being broadcast live on commercial TV) the Mercury Prize remains one of the most important awards an artist can pick up. Not only does it raise public awareness of the nominated artists, leading to often dramatic increases in sales, but the winner takes home £20,000 prize money – a serious figure, especiallyas the winners’ careers can often still be in their infancy.

We take

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a brief look at this year’s nominated albums below.

Arctic Monkeys – AM

When Northern indie boys turned quiff-sporting rock gods Arctic Monkeys released their fifth album AM to almost universal acclaim, one thing was very clear: that they have their sights set on world domination. And they’re not far off at all. AM is a strutting, Cuban heel-wearing brute of an album that reeks of a band with ideas matched in grandeur only by their own confidence.

David Bowie – The Next Day

Bowie surprised just about everyone when out of nowhere he dropped the video for ‘Where Are We Now’ way back in January. Truth be told, he’d probably be on this list even if The Next Day wasn’t up there with his very best albums. However, as it happens, it is – which makes him a pretty strong contender for this year’s prize.

Disclosure – Settle

Although they’re not old enough to remember it the first time around, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence brought Nineties house music bang up to date with their debut full length Settle. Deep house, garage, call it whatever you want; they’re all too happy to embrace their pop sensibilities – a refreshing attitude where pop is often regarded as a dirty word in critical circles.

Foals – Holy Fire

Holy Fire is the album that saw Foals evolving into the huge festival-headlining name that they hinted they could become on their previous album Total Life Forever. While the calculated rhythms and lush, atmospheric production didn’t come as much of a surprise, the ferocity of tracks such as ‘Inhaler’ was slightly more unexpected. This is without a doubt Foals’ finest album yet, and a very promising clue as to the direction they’re moving in.

Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

We have to admit that we do find it a bit strange that Jake Bugg is here. Still, it wouldn’t be the Mercury Prize if everyone was happy, would it?

James Blake – Overgrown

It was no real surprise to see Mercury Prize poster boy JB on

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the list of nominations again this year. His motto may well be ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, as his second album Overgrown found him in a typically subdued and melancholic mood – sounding more or less exactly as you might expect James Blake to sound. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course – Overgrown is more than deserving of a place among these twelve albums.

Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Without a doubt our favourite of this year’s nominations, Immunity is an album that is every bit as varied as it is gripping. Segueing from blistering techno into blissful piano interludes with effortless fluidity, this is an album that reveals more of its secrets every time, making each listen (and repeated listens are a necessity) an absolute joy.

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Establishing Laura Marling as one of the best young songwriters around, this album won a lot of praise from critics upon its release in May. Although it might not be among the frontrunners in this year’s odds, Once I Was An Eagle is a wonderful example of an album working as a full body of work, and because of that it might just sneak in.

Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon

The second of the two Lauras, but probably the more likely of the two to win. Sing To The Moon turned Laura Mvula into a slightly unlikely household name upon its release back in March with its instantly recognisable brand of literate jazz-tinged pop. The bookies think that the gong (and the bag of cash) will probably end up in Mvula’s hands this year, and a worthy winner she would be too.

Rudimental – Home

Another of the more commercially-leaning albums to make the cut this year, Home saw East London’s Rudimental cementing their place as one of the year’s biggest crossover acts. While some might argue that they don’t fully encapsulate the spirit of the Mercury Prize, it’s difficult to argue when they’ve proven themselves more than capable of knocking out chart-smashing drum and bass-heavy pop tunes with their debut album.

Savages – Silence Yourself

While there are fewer ‘left-field’ picks among this year’s nominations, Savages are one of the bands who seem to have the support of the whole muso community going into tonight’s ceremony. Will they win? Probably not. But we’re glad that their incendiary debut album has at least been acknowledged – plus we can’t wait to see one of the best live bands at the moment perform live on TV.

Villagers – {Awayland}

We’re big Villagers fans here at Deezer, so we were pleased to see the second album from Conor O’Brien and co. getting the nod from the Mercury panel. Representing Ireland at this year’s event, Villagers are the underdogs according to the bookies (at 50/1), but it’s good to see {Awayland} getting the recognition we think it deserves.

* * * * *

So, the big question – who’s going to win? Well the bookies seem convinced that Laura Mvula will (her odds are now 6/4) – and we’re inclined to agree with them on this one. However, if it was up to us, Jon Hopkins would be taking home the prize. Only one thing is for sure – whatever the result, there will be plenty of ‘healthy discussion’ about it afterwards. Especially if Jake Bugg nicks it…

Listen to all of the nominees for this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize below.

The 2013 Mercury Prize ceremony will be broadcast tonight on More4 at 21:30, with the announcement of winner simulcast on Channel 4 at 22:00. A full repeat is broadcast tomorrow (31st October) on Channel 4 at 23:05.

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