The Mercury prize is host each year to some of the UK's greatest artists, unless you're Sleaford Mods then they don't care. With winners such as Arctic Monkeys winning the award and going on to become one of the biggest acts in the land, and artists like Speech Debelle who largely get forgotten. The last 12 months has seen some fantastic albums and Ed Sheeran, so the Smashed Vinyl writers have picked the album they think should win the coverted and most prestigious award in the British music industry.
Martha - Loyle Carner ‘Yesterday’s Gone’
Since the release of his ‘breakout single’ “NO CD” over a year ago, Loyle Carner has sold out shows throughout the UK, brought his mum on stage to get her the “cheer she deserves” during a Glastonbury performance and released a remarkable debut album. ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ – an album named after a track recorded by the rapper’s dad before his death in 2014 – is full of gorgeous, emotive moments of storytelling and soul-searching; not surprising from a man who wrote his first poem at the age of seven, to help him work through his feelings after the death of his best friend.
However, Loyle Carner won’t win the Mercury Prize because he’s played on everyone’s emotions, he’ll win it because he’s crafted a clever, fresh album with hints of hip-hop, bass, soul and jazz; with no arrogance, just honesty.
Madelene - The xx 'I See You'
I See You is the third album to be released by The xx who have been touring the world with the record since March. Unlike previous records, I See You has incorporated Jamie xx’s talent as a DJ and his time away from the band working on his solo album In Colour but, the trio have also managed to successful stick to their indie, laid back roots. This is the second time the band have been nominated for the prize after previously winning the award for their debut album xx in 2010, and they are just as deserving of the award this time around.
Ewan - The Big Moon 'Love in the 4th Dimension'
The Big Moon's highly anticipated debut album, 'Love In The 4th Dimension', certainly didn't disappoint.
The album kicks off with the re-worked version of one of their earlier releases, 'Sucker', a track that grasps you tight and doesn't let go. The melodic riffs and playful vocals thoroughly exemplify what makes The Big Moon one of the best bands around right now.
The new tracks are just as strong as those previously released singles, making the album a shining example of a proper all killer, no filler debut album. As you move through the album each song feels individually brilliant, yet is also complimented by those that came before and after.
'Silent Movie Susie' is the bouncy and comedic remedy to anyone's pre-first date nerves and 'Cupid' will be there for you on the grin-educing stride of pride. 'Formidable' is one of the best tracks of the last few years, it has a mature and powerful sound that sits proudly as the jewel in the crown of The Big Moon's instant classic.
There really isn't a bad song on the album, you can really hear the passion and energy every member of the band has put into each song and although it is unlikely to reach the same dizzying heights, 'Love In The 4th Dimension' is up there with the likes of Arctic Monkeys' 'Whatever People Say...' in terms of sheer quality.
This is an album you do not want to pass you by, once it lands into your Spotify or onto your record player it isn't going to leave in a hurry. It is the perfect indie album.
Mia - Blossoms 'Blossoms'
The definition of blossom is "To mature or develop in a promising way" - this says it all. Formed in 2013 they have an extensive history and have most definitely blossomed onto the music scene. Hailing from Stockport, they have the magic of vocalist Tom Ogdens' husky northern charm that is as smooth as liquid gold trickling through your headphones. Their self titled album 'Blossoms' has received high praise all round from their crowd pleasing 'Charlemagne' to the more delicate 'My Favourite Room' and most defiantly deserve the praise to continue.
George - J Hus 'Common Sense'
In a relatively short amount of time, J Hus has carved out a niche for himself in the overly saturated UK rap/afrobeat genre, releasing ‘Common Sense’; an unapologetic representation of his inimitable style. Like a British Wu Tang Clan or E-40, the London-based 21 year old has single-handedly created a new slang and dialect that has now been adopted on a wider cultural level. This is supported by fellow MC Mez, who says in a recent freestyle ‘I don’t think anybody in my generation wanna get ice with Fanta’, inspired by the album’s final track, “Friendly”. In the same way that previous Mercury Prize winning artist Dizzee Rascal legitimised grime music in 2003 with ‘Boy in Da Corner’, ‘Common Sense’ shows that the UK afrobeat genre is capable of producing great, memorable album. For this very reason, J Hus is deserving of the Mercury Prize.
Megan - Glass Animals 'How To Be A Human Being'
Perhaps a little less gooey than their debut, Glass Animal's How To Be A Human Being takes the smooth, sensual vibes of Zaba and twists them into a colourful surrealist painting. Inspired by conversations David Bayley recorded on his iPhone, this album plays like a London arts student's mixed media collage, bursting with life whilst still remaining true to the intrinsic details, their Glass Animalisms, which have made a name for them in the Indie scene. Their sensitivity to intricacy shines through on this album as they appear nourished, opening up and moving away from the claustrophobic, insular sounds of Zaba, to present us with a new genre of seductive prowess.