The winner of this year’s Mercury Prize will be announced today with chart acts Kasabian, Glasvegas and Brit-winning Florence And The Machine among the acts battling it out for the prestigious award.
This year’s 12-strong shortlist is dominated by debut releases – seven out of 12 – including Speech Therapy by rapper Speech Debelle, whose lyrics were partly inspired by her experiences living in hostels as a teenager.
Bookmakers have made the south Londoner favourite to scoop the prize, which was won last year by indie underdogs Elbow.
When the shortlist was announced in July, the judges described Debelle’s album as “a remarkable new voice in British hip-hop, tough, warm and reflective. Wonderfully supple rhymes and beautifully subtle music”.
Other debut albums vying for this year’s award include the self-titled releases by electronic trio Friendly Fires and the chart duo La Roux.
Leicester quartet Kasabian have made the list for the first time with their third album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, while Glasvegas are included for their eponymous first release.
Florence Welch, better known under her stage name Florence And The Machine, builds on her Critics’ Choice award at this year’s Brit Awards by being shortlisted for her first album Lungs.
Bat For Lashes, aka Natasha Khan, previously made the shortlist in 2007 with her debut album Fur And Gold.
The nominees are judged by an independent panel to be the key albums of the year regardless of how well they have sold.
Previous winners of the award have included Pulp, Franz Ferdinand and Klaxons. The prize has often been seen as a kiss of death for many acts who fail to find a commercially successful follow-up, but Elbow notably bucked the trend for fourth album the Seldom Seen Kid which has been their biggest release to date and completely revitalised their career.
The award is often accused of tokenism for including folk and jazz entries, and this year’s jazz offering is from Led Bib for third album Sensible Shoes, while Irish musician Lisa Hannigan – who hand-stitched the cover of her album Sea Sew - flies the flag for folk.
The shortlist is as follows:
:: Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
:: The Horrors – Primary Colours
:: Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
:: Glasvegas – Glasvegas
:: La Roux – La Roux
:: Florence And The Machine – Lungs
:: Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
:: Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew
:: The Invisible – the Invisible
:: Led Bib – Sensible Shoes
:: Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men
:: Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy