The nominees for this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize have been announced.
The Hyundai Mercury Prize recognises and celebrates the albums of the year from Britain and Ireland, as chosen by a panel of British music critics and industry professionals, this year including Stormzy, Jorja Smith and Annie Mac. The prize aims to highlight both exciting emerging talent and more established bands and artists across all genres of music.
It is the 28th year of the prize; the first prize was won by Primal Scream's Screamadelica, and last year’s winners were Wolf Alice for their album Visions Of A Life.
This year has been an especially strong one for British albums, with The 1975, Foals, Dave, Anna Calvi and Cate Le Bon are among the artists whose albums have been shortlisted for this year’s prize. Missing from the list are notable records from James Blake, Florence + the Machine, Skepta and Lewis Capaldi.
The full list of albums on this year’s shortlist are below, an introductory playlist of the nominees is here, and the prize will be awarded in a live ceremony on 19 September.
Anna Calvi, Hunter
Sleeve notes: Hunter is the third album from the goth-rock guitarist and her third Mercury Prize nomination. Hunter sees Calvi musing on gender, sexuality and identity, and features Portishead’s Adrian Utley on keys and The Bad Seeds’ Martyn Casey on bass.
“A wildly adventurous musical exploration of sexual identities and desires.”
“Brilliantly arranged songs of passion, eloquence and joy”
Song to start with: Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy
black midi, Schlagenheim
Sleeve notes: Brit-school-hyped, Black Midi from South London offer an energetic, chaotic charge against the more manufactured sounds that pass through the system.
“A guitar band with a difference. Black Midi are so willfully resistant to following any obvious musical path that it is impossible not to enjoy the ride.”
Song to start with: Reggae
Cate Le Bon, Reward
Sleeve notes: While writing her fifth album, Le Bon attended school to study the art of chairmaking. The album was recorded with frequent collaborators saxophonist Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo), drummer Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), guitarists Huw Evans and Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Kurt Vile.
“A breath-taking pop-inflected meditation on the sounds of solitude.”
“Elegant, urgent and shimmeringly romantic”
Song to start with: Miami
Sleeve notes: Inspired by his brother’s therapy sessions while in prison, this uncompromising debut album from the South London follows a three-act structure of “environment”, “relationships” and “social compass”.
“A powerful and astutely crafted memoir of Dave's life and our times.”
“Unflinching, graceful and deeply moving”
Song to start with: Black
Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1
Sleeve notes: The Oxford band’s stadium-sized sound addresses defining issues of our times – climate change, political uncertainty and mental health problems.
“A musical soundtrack to the drama of climate change.”
“Ominous, defiant and gloriously atmospheric rock.”
Song to start with: On the Luna
Fontaines DC, Dogrel
Sleeve notes: Dublin band’s debut album takes them beyond their boisterous and belligerent post-punk roots through echoes of surf guitar, Oasis, The Stooges and Shane MacGowan.
“Punk as performance art. Smartly written, impatiently driven.”
“Irresistible reflections on urban change and loss”
Song to start with: Big
IDLES, Joy as an Act of Resistance
Sleeve notes: The five-piece Bristol band’s second album offers a pro-immigration punk slice of real life that champions identity, vulnerability and community, while also providing a nod or two to the ’80s classic Dirty Dancing.
“Everything the title promises. A bruising, uplifting guitar-charged defiance of austerity and hatred.”
“A passionate and exultant album’
Song to start with: Colossus
Little Simz, Grey Area
The third album from the North London rapper pushes Little Simz to new heights by confronting the demons that lurk below self-belief.
“Rap as self-reflection, vulnerability as power.”
“Expert wordplay and sinuous flow set against subtle use of live accompaniment. Poignant and implacable.”
Song to start with: Selfish
Nottingham born, East London raised, the R&B singer-songwriter examines personal growth and turmoil through an astrological lens on her second album.
“The excitement and dismay of romantic upheaval are elegantly captured by NAO's beautifully crafted songs and buoyant vocals.”
“An impeccable soul album’
Song to start with: Make It Out Alive
SEED Ensemble, Driftglass
The debut album from the ten-piece project led by composer, arranger and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi combines South African jazz with Sixties soul and hip hop influences.
“Cassie Kinoshi and her exuberant ten-piece band effortlessly combine homage to jazz history and celebration of today's London's jazz scene.”
“Rousing and inspiring”
Song to start with: Afronaut
slowthai, Nothing Great About Britain
The Northampton rapper’s debut album paints a raw and menacing portrait of a divided and unequal nation, which takes swipes at nationalism and working-class culture fetishisation.
“Absorbing, vivid stories of lives lived at the cultural margins, told with tenderness, rage and humour.”
“An urgent and profound debut.”
Song to start with: Nothing Great About Britain
The 1975, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Sleeve notes: The 1975's third album both provokes thought and pokes fun at our information-overloaded world.
“Thrilling and thoughtful, eccentric and electric.”
“Everything we expect from The 1975 and more. Magnificent!”
Song to start with: Love It If We Made It
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