The “Albums of the Year” shortlist for the annual Mercury Prize was revealed earlier today in London. The prestigious award recognizes the best albums released each year by artists from the United Kingdom and Ireland. London singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine won the honor at last year’s ceremony for his debut LP At Least for Now.
This year’s twelve nominated albums are the late David Bowie’s Blackstar, Anohni’s Hopelessness, Bat for Lashes’ The Bride, Jamie Woon’s Making Time, Kano’s Made in the Manor, Laura Mvula’s The Dreaming Room, Michael Kiwanuka’s Love & Hate, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, Savages' Adore Life, Skepta’s Konnichiwa, The Comet is Coming’s Channel the Spirits, and The 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.
A stellar and eclectic list indeed, and we’re laying our bets on Blackstar or A Moon Shaped Pool to snag the honor at the official awards ceremony to be held September 15th at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. With the shortlist confined to a dozen selections, however, this year’s judging panel—which includes Annie Mac, Jarvis Cocker, and Jessie Ware among others—invariably left several deserving albums off their final list.
For whatever its worth, if the Albumism team had our say in the matter, the following five albums would have made the final cut this year. Let us know if you agree with our choices or if there are other albums that you would have preferred to see included within the shortlist.
James Blake | The Colour in Anything
What We Said: “In the album closer ‘Meet You in the Maze,’ the second of two songs co-written by Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), Blake repeats the mantra “music can’t be everything,” suggesting that love takes precedence above all. We concur. But we’re also convinced that the inspired, modern-day masterpiece The Colour in Anything is essential, life-affirming music that, upon playing it a few times through, we know we can’t live without. Not that we need any further reminding, but Blake’s latest achievement reinforces just how unique and vital of a creative force he is.”
Daughter | Not to Disappear
Update (8/6/16): According to Mercury Prize eligibility rules, Daughter are not eligible to be nominated because less than 50% of its band members are British and/or Irish. While Elena Tonra (vocals) is indeed a native of England, Igor Haefeli (guitar) is from Switzerland and Remi Aguilella (drums) is from France. Apparently, we are not the only ones unfamiliar with these specific rules. And even more reason for the Mercury Prize decision-makers to update these rules!
What We Said: “Few bands working today make exorcising one’s demons sound as sublime as Daughter does. It’s refreshing to hear Elena Tonra so eloquently externalize the anguish that so many of us feel deep down inside, but are often too reluctant to divulge. Her introspective ruminations and emotional honesty are reassuring, offering glimmers of hope that solace can indeed be found amidst whatever it is that torments us. Bolstered by her bandmates’ atmospheric, intricately-woven soundscapes, Not To Disappear is a poetically poignant statement from a band that shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.”
Låpsley | Long Way Home
What We Said: “Låpsley’s brave debut is a sterling collection of songs substantially more intriguing and gratifying than much of the UK-bred female pop out there today, including the comparatively sterile and overwrought compositions that define her XL labelmate Adele’s latest commercial behemoth of an album. Indeed, Long Way Home is a stellar first formal step toward what seems destined to be a fruitful future ahead for the supremely talented Låpsley.”
Rosie Lowe | Control
What We Said: “In our 2016 new music preview back in January, we wrote that Control is ‘unequivocally the debut album we’re looking forward to the most this year.’ Much to our delight, Control not only lives up to our expectations, it transcends them. It’s truly a divine album and surely a harbinger of many more wonderful things to come from the supremely talented, undeniably charming Rosie Lowe.”
Underworld | Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future
What We Said: “An official band statement refers to the album as “head music to dance to,” an apropos description of this inspired, masterfully constructed record’s essence, which is sure to reveal hidden treasure after hidden treasure upon repeated listens. Throughout the entirety of Barbara Barbara, Underworld sound more invigorated and unencumbered than they have in decades, suggesting that this next phase of their storied career is destined to be a shining one, indeed.”