Who should take gold in the Mercury?

The shortlist for the Mercury Prize 2013 has been announced. Here, our writers make their case for who they think should take home this year’s award. Spoiler: no Rudimental.

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
60cda-lauraThe breeze is getting chillier; the first leaves are falling from the trees, and Laura Marling has been nominated for the Mercury Prize. Three sure signs that Autumn is once again rolling in. This time, however, the poster girl and darling of Britain’s folk revival arrives with an album that truly realises her mesmerising potential; an album that possesses a beautiful simplicity but still reveals layer after layer upon each listen. Marling offers the most devilish combination: a voice that reveals eternal youth and vulnerability; but one that is also steeped in wisdom, certainty and serenity. It has never sounded more perfect. Phil Smith

Arctic Monkeys – AM
9a232-arctic-monkeys-amAM, the latest instalment in the Arctic Monkey’s compellingly entertaining evolution, is a rhythmic and wickedly suave portrait of four exquisitely talented rockers in their 20s having a lot of fun and – perhaps more relevantly here – a lot of sex. The groove on this album is spectacular: it features the dirtiest of snarling guitar riffs, greatly entertaining Rolling Stones-style ‘whoo-whoos’, chunky Dr. Dre-indebted basslines (the band spent the last year living on the West Coast), and smart layered harmonies that replicate the vibes of the funkiest 1990s r’n’b cuts. And, of course, there’s the bitingly sharp and intelligent lyricism that now comes as a given on any Alex Turner record. “I just want you to do me no good,” he croons on ‘No.1 Party Anthem’. It’s all really terrific fun. Piers Barber

Disclosure – Settle
c46fb-disclosure-settle-albumAs much as I think this years’ Mercury Prize contenders are quite low in quality compared to previous years, there are three records that are far above the rest. Arctic Monkey’s AM and Foals’ Holy Fire are two very intriguing albums with plenty of guile, however if you are to award a record based on its pure musical quality and relevance to the British charts then you have to side with Disclosure’s Settle. Although contrived in places (house music in this day and age always will be to an extent), the undeniable pop sensibilities on show here push the group’s debut above the rest of the pile. There are stark voices not heard before (such as Sasha Keable on the ironically named track ‘Voices’), tough breakbeats and polished deep house productions. Settle features enough goose bump moments to make the talented Lawrence borthers deserved winners of this year’s award. Rory Johnson

David Bowie – The Next Day
0737e-nextdayIt is easy to forget that in the midst of a year of David Bowie documentaries, films and art exhibitions, one of popular culture’s most important figures also found time to produce arguably the best album of the year. The Next Day is uncompromisingly Bowie – effortlessly cool throughout, transitioning beautifully between bold, stomping tracks such as ‘(You Will) Set the World on Fire’ to other more heartbreakingly reflective moments. The record has definite echoes of his previous work whilst managing to sound aggressively modern. The phenomenal lyrics and melodies on offer put it in a different bracket to any of the other nominees. Tom Kinney

James Blake – Overgrown
0c6fd-james-blake-overgrown-410When James Blake’s self-titled debut album was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011, it represented the moment he crossed over from an underground producer, much-hyped on internet forums, to a burgeoning singer-songwriter on the edge of the mainstream. Now that Overgrown has received the same accolade that transformation seems complete. Where Blake’s debut was lo-fi and heartfelt, Overgrown is polished and professional; and whilst it might lack much of the charm of its predecessor, it remains a very accomplished album. Blake’s familiar beautiful vocals effortlessly soar over everything, but by showing a new sophisticated side to his songwriting he has avoided the trap of becoming predictable. It represents a major step forward in this exciting artist’s career. Buster Stonham

The winner of the 2013 Mercury Prize will be announced on the 30th October. The other albums nominated are:
Foals – Holy Fire
Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon
Rudimental – Home
Savages – Silence Yourself
Villagers – {Awayland}

See also: The Mercury Prize: Stick or twist?Album Review: Jon Hopkins – Immunity & Album Review: Foals – Holy Fire

3 responses to “Who should take gold in the Mercury?

  1. Pingback: The Mercury Prize: Stick or twist? | Music Factory Number 1·

  2. Pingback: Album Review: Jon Hopkins – Immunity | Music Factory Number 1·

  3. Pingback: Album Review: Foals – Holy Fire | Music Factory Number 1·

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