Mercury Prize shortlist: a look at the nominations

On 11 October, the shortlist was announced for the 2013 Barclaycard Mercury Prize Albums of the Year.

This year’s selection, described by Chair of Judges Simon Frith as “urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic” includes an eclectic mix of established musicians and newcomers, from David Bowie to Laura Mvula. Ahead of the awards show on 30 October, I’ll be looking at each of the nominees.

First up: Arctic Monkeys: AM, David Bowie: The Next Day, Disclosure: Settle, Foals: Holy Fire, Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg, James Blake: Overgrown

Arctic Monkeys: AM
Sounding suspiciously (but delightfully) like a swagger-filled movie soundtrack, Pitchfork gives Arctic Monkeys’ latest album an 8.0. Building on their debut effort, which was more rebellious Yorkshire teen than LA rocker, “AM goes beyond the sweaty clubs and furtive flirts into the hotel rooms, after parties, and bad decisions that can follow.”

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David Bowie: The Next Day
8/10 says NME of David Bowie’s highly anticipated The Next Day. It’s an album that’s “happy to acknowledge Bowie’s titanic past” while simultaneously “leaping forward with a restless energy to tomorrow”.

David Bowie - The Next Day (Explicit)

Disclosure: Settle
Electronic duo Disclosure debuted at No.1 with their album, Settle, in May. Simultaneously satisfying garage, soul and pop tastes, it was deemed worthy of a 9.1 by Pitchfork: “the Surrey duo have not only made 2013’s best dance record so far – they’ve also concocted one of the most assured, confident debuts from any genre in recent memory.”

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Foals: Holy Fire

“So, Foals. Artsy. Difficult. Oblique. But no longer. ‘Holy Fire’ brings new words to mind. Sharp. Emotive. Massive.” With 9/10 from NME, the Oxford group’s third album has seemingly been designed to take them on an epic stadium rock tour.

Foals - My Number (Official Video)

Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg
Simultaneously channelling Bob Dylan and Noel Gallagher, Nottingham’s Jake Bugg burst onto the scene last year with his Brit pop meets folk blues charm. Lauded by critics, his eponymous work is loaded with “palpable teenage restlessness”: Rolling Stone gives it five stars.

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James Blake: Overgrown
NME gives it 8/10, labelling it “one of the most nuanced, soothing and adventurous of 2013.” Overgrown is what you get when classical training meets dubstep meets a yearning singer/songwriter. And this genre-defying album (and artist) delivers with his sophomore effort.

James Blake - Retrograde (Official Video)

Next week I’ll be looking at the remaining six nominees: Jon Hopkins: Immunity, Laura Marling: Once I Was An Eagle, Laura Mvula: Sing To The Moon, Rudimental: Home, Savages: Silence Yourself, Villagers: Awayland.