Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Singles Bar - 19/9/11

There are ten tracks for your consideration this week and, oddly enough, three of them have titles that begin with the word ‘No.’ Thus, they can join the pantheon of great ‘No’ songs, like Robbie Williams’ No Regretsand 2 Unlimited’s No Limit. What’s your favourite ‘No’ record? I think mine would be TLC’s No Scrubs withNo Rain by Blind Melon a close second.
Miles Kane – Come Closer
Former Rascal Miles Kane deals in a particularly retro brand of Brit-rock. Because no-one else seems to be doing this currently, it doesn’t feel like a complete rip-off. Come Closer recalls The Who, The Kinks and T. Rex, without ever reaching the heights of those bands. It’s a perfectly adequate song with a great, rousing climax, but it lacks the impact of past single, InhalerCome Closer has already been released this year and was Kane’s only song to crack the Top 100, so it seems peculiar to put it out again. Ideally, he’ll soon give Alex Turner a ring and the two of them can make another Last Shadow Puppets album. 6/10
Roots Manuva – Get The Get
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Roots Manuva. He paved the way for so many of UK hip-hop’s current stars, yet rarely seems to get the recognition or sales figures he deserves. Get The Get isn’t the best track Roots has ever released, but it’s a good, immediate pop song that would go down well in “the club” or other such fun locations as often referenced in song. The new Roots Manuva album, 4everevolution, is out next month and, on the evidence of Get The Get, looks well worth checking out. 7/10
James Morrison – I Won’t Let You Go
This weekend, James Morrison was spouting off in that well-known music publication, er… The Daily Star, about manufactured music. He said, “People need to keep believing in real music,” and added that if his daughter ever went on The X Factor, he’d tell her, “If you want to sell your soul, don’t come home to me.”What a nice man he seems. It’s good to see people getting their priorities straight, isn’t it? I mean, you could show your daughter love and encouragement, or you could disown her for following in your footsteps in a bid for stardom. Morrison also called boyband JLS “the worst singers I’ve ever heard.” Funnily enough, I’d rather listen to JLS for hours on end than this piece of by-numbers, over-emoting rubbish. Someone in the studio has clearly pushed the button marked ‘epic’ and created a track which seems to do a lot while saying nothing at all. Think the weaker moments of David Gray or even James Blunt. 1/10
Nicola Roberts – Lucky Day
While Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl Cole has made her life a tabloid staple, Nicola Roberts has decided to go out and make some amazing pop records instead. Well done her. It makes you wonder why more pop stars don’t do things like this – make songs which are playful, engaging and packed full of more hooks than an angling competition. It’s no Beat Of My Drum (but then again, what is?) yet it seems to have been genetically engineered to jump out of the speakers. Fun, danceable and throwaway – everything a great single should be. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Frankmusik – No ID (featuring Colette Carr)
While we’re talking about great pop stars, here’s No ID by Frankmusik. It’s ludicrously simple and sadly leans a little too heavy on the auto-tune, but has a chorus you’ll find near impossible to shift from your subconscious. Frankmusik and Colette Carr seem remarkably chipper about getting turned away from a club for having – you guessed it – no ID, but luckily they’ve got another party to go to. Phew, that’s a relief. Having just espoused the virtues of throwaway pop, this is sadly a little too dumb and one-dimensional for my tastes. 6/10
Dappy – No Regrets
For anyone not familiar with the oeuvre of the artist known as Dappy, he’s one of those rap singers from an inexplicably popular R&B trio called N-Dubz and is known for wearing silly hats. Whilst they’re on hiatus (Tulisa is an X Factor judge; Fazer is… God knows, trying on sunglasses probably), Dappy has launched his solo career. No Regrets is a song about redemption, with Dappy letting us know how he’s grown up and doesn’t do bad things any more, like – to pick an example at random – get fired as an anti-bullyingspokeman for stealing the phone number of a member of the public who’d criticised him and texting them abuse. Anyway, it’s a terrible song with tired hip-hop production, and Dappy seems to display all the lyrical dexterity of a snooker table. His approach seems to be to think of a line, then name somebody famous after it (“I’m a changed man – Chris Brown,” “Back to the future – Marty McFly,” “I’m flying with the birds – Richard Branson,” “I’ll blow the bloody doors off – Michael Caine.”) which would be hilarious if it weren’t deadly serious. Note to Dappy: if you “look in the mirror” and “don’t even recognise” yourself, but see “the heart of a winner,” then that’s not a mirror; it’s called a window. 2/10
Wiz Khalifa – No Sleep
No Sleep is the fourth single from Wiz Khalifa’s album, Rolling Papers, and it shows. Lacking the energy of Black And YellowNo Sleep is a dull and monotonous track that makes having fun sound like a hell of a drag. The production is actually more in keeping with radio-friendly R&B like N-Dubz than what you’d expect from hip-hop. This may be a short review, but there’s little else to say about it; for a song called No Sleep, it’s remarkably soporific. 3/10
Emmy The Great – Paper Forest (In The Afterglow Of Rapture)
There’s something about Emmy The Great which brings to mind annoyingly, self-consciously kooky singer-songwriters who think they’re Kate Bush but are more Kate Nash. Paper Forest is a well-produced, delicatefolky number that has too many words per line, which sadly spoils the mood somewhat. That said, there are some really nice touches which bode well for further exploration and the last minute or so has lovely harmonies. There’s a nagging feeling that Emmy The Great has sabotaged what could have been a really wonderful track. 6/10
Alex Winston – Velvet Elvis
Now this is certainly interesting, if nothing else. The opening ten seconds sound like a wormhole’s opened to the 1940s before the vocals begin, which are… distinctive to say the least – think Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead or early Joanna NewsomVelvet Elvis is in the same folk-tinged vein as Mumford & Sons or Noah & The Whale, but there’s a more marching, purposeful feel to the music. There are also strong elements of twee pop; as well as the girlish voice, there’s plenty of glockenspiel embellishment. Certainly one to watch for the future, but this kind of precociousness would probably become wearing over the course of an entire album. 7/10
Lady Gaga – Yoü and I
There are many thing to love about 80s music. However, for her latest single, Lady Gaga has focused on two of the worst aspects – dated, overblown production and the power ballad. For some reason, she’s picked the worst track from the patchy Born This Way to release as a single when there are other, more deserving candidates (Marry The Night or Hair, for example). As previously mentioned in the No Ripcordreview of Born This Way, Yoü and I sounds uncannily like Nickelback’s Rockstar, and once you’ve realisedthat, it’s impossible to enjoy it. There are likely to be great things from Lady Gaga in the future but for everyone’s sake, it’s probably best we sweep this under the carpet and try to forget it ever happened. 3/10

Battle For Seattle

Little Roy - Battle For Seattle
released 5 September 2011 on Ark Recordings

Musician Earl “Little Roy” Lowe has been making records since the 1960s. He’s worked with The Wailers and Lee “Scratch” Perry, and was responsible for the first Jamaican hit single about the Rastafari movement. Like the vast majority of reggae artists, he’s been largely ignored by the rock-centric mainstream media for practically his whole career. Until now, that is, because Little Roy had made an album consisting entirely of cover versions of Nirvana songs.

Before you can shout, “novelty record,” it should be pointed out that these tracks are treated with the care and reverence they deserve. There’s nothing remotely ironic or tongue-in-cheek about it, Little Roy and his band are simply interpreting some great songs in the best way they know how.

And what songs they are. Battle For Seattle proves once and for all that Nirvana were always far too talented to be tied by the constraints of the inward-looking grunge movement. Kurt Cobain, as well as being an avid fan of Pixies and The Melvins, was a disciple of The Beatles and The Vaselines amongst others, and stripping away the layers of distortion really showcases the quality and, in some cases, beauty of his compositions.

What’s particularly noticeable, especially on tracks like Heart Shaped Box and Lithium, is how incongruous it sounds to hear these well known songs rendered in such an uptempo style. It’s certainly an interesting juxtaposition when paired with some of Cobain’s more challenging lyrics, but the arrangements are so deftly handled it feels like some tracks (Polly and Son Of A Gun, for instance), were specifically written to be performed in a reggae style.

One noticeable absentee from the album is Nirvana’s most famous track, Smells Like Teen Spirit. In fact, some of the choices are far from obvious (there are three songs from compilation album, Incesticide) and it would be particularly interesting to know the logic behind the selection process.

Unplugged In New York showed the world Cobain was a great songwriter and Battle For Seattle reasserts that. The off-beat, choppy guitar licks accentuate some of the more daring chord changes (see Very Ape or Polly) and a bassy, sparse production frames On A Plain wonderfully. Little Roy has made the best of great material and has incorporated some great touches – the horn accompaniments on Dive and Lithium are fantastic, and the backing vocals, including a joyous “oo-WOO!” at the end of each verse line, make his version of Sliver the best track of the bunch.

Battle For Seattle isn’t perfect – Come As You Are lacks the punch of the original and the opening riff is replicated in a grating, Muzak style – but it’s a great attempt at an idea that had the potential to go disastrously wrong. The sheer variation on offer here is also commendable; it’s always quintessentially reggae, but varied enough to keep the listener interested throughout. It’s also a damn sight better than any grunge reworking of Exodus is likely to be.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Slow Club (Interview)

Slow Club are very much in the ascendency. Their second album, Paradise, is getting rave reviews across the board and they’ve just embarked upon a headline tour of the UK. I managed to organise a call with singer and drummer Rebecca Taylor before they hit the road.
In interviews, you’ve given the impressions that you’re relieved the album is finished and ready to go, did you find it a particularly difficult album to make?
It didn’t start out that way but then it took a while. We were in this intense studio situation, which was quite exhausting; you can’t do that for too long really. When we got to the end we just felt drained by it, so it’s kind of a relief that it’s on a CD and we can’t change anything. When you’ve been on tour for a year, you think, “I can’t wait to go in the studio,” but now we’ve got this new record that we’re really happy with and we just want to release it, get it out there and give birth to the difficult second baby!
Would you say that’s different from how the recording of the first album went?
With the first album [Yeah So], we’d played all those songs hundreds of times on tour and they just needed recording, whereas this one was ten or twelve abstract bits and bobs that were sort of songs but we didn’t know how we wanted them to sound. The first one didn’t take half as long; we didn’t have a producer so we’d just do a take and, because I’m really lazy, I’d just say, “Is that alright?” and everyone would say, “Yeah!” Whereas this time, I’d sit behind the kit and Luke [Smith, formerly of Clor], who produced it, would say, “No, again,” and I’d think, “ARGH!” I’d get really mardy because I’d be in there for hours but I think the outcome is all the better and I’m really proud of it. The second album felt like doing it properly whereas the first album was just us doing it because we needed to do an album at that point.
Didn’t you scrap quite a lot of the recording you did before Christmas?
Charles likes to say that in a dramatic fashion but I don’t think we actually scrapped it, as such. There were things that we re-did with the skeleton and the structure. We had a lot of time and you have that luxury to play with things; it was a lot of twiddling knobs, basically, and trying out different things. Then we got back after Christmas and thought, “Shit, we’d better get on with this now.” But I don’t think any of the time was wasted; it’s a steep learning curve. It took a while to learn how we all communicate, so soon Luke knew what, “Fuck off! No, I’m not doing it again!” meant. But we got there and by the end of it, we were a pretty well-oiled machine.
Now you’re established as a band, do you feel under any more pressure with this album?
I don’t know really. The album’s got some really nice reviews already and if that carries on and it means we get more people down at gigs and more people buying it, then it can just naturally progress. It’s weird for us because we started being a band about five years ago now and, at that time, we were watching our mates get big record deals and tour loads. It was amazing to see that and want that but in a way, I’m kind of glad we didn’t because we’ve been able to really slowly get better as a band and then get better numbers at gigs. I don’t know, there’s a part of me that would have liked as to go [makes exploding noise] and be, “Yes, we’re massive,” but we’re not. I’d have been mortified if our first album had done really, really well and defined us as one sound because that’s definitely not what we want to do any more. I think we’re lucky to be in the position we are in, and it’d be amazing to get a bit bigger but I want us to just carry on so I don’t have to get a job!
I found an article from a few years ago which made Slow Club out to be quite a twee, cute band. There were elements of that on your first record but the new one has a more mature sound – is that a description you’d agree with?
Yeah, totally. We’ve answered this question over and over, the label just pisses me off because it was one article in 2007. The thing was, by the end of us recording that album, we were so loud live, I’ve lost hearing – we’re not a twee band if I’m going deaf! Also, people say we write sweet songs but I’m such a raincloud! Everything I’ve written has come from some sort of mardy sadness and that’s not twee. With the second record, for me more than Charles, I was thinking, “I really want to fucking shut everyone up,” and I don’t think you can give us that label any more. It’s nice we’re getting asked this question all the time because it means we can say, “There you go.”
Do you think it’s lazy journalists looking at the fact you’re a duo – one man, one woman – in a pop group?
Definitely, yeah. I suppose I look like a…jolly baker. I mean, we look like friendly people, but the thing is, I’m not, I’m horrible [laughs]. But, it is what it is. I’ve been listening to a lot of different things, as has Charles, and what excites me in the studio is emulating what you love, so there are wildly different reference points which have made a whole different sound.
Perhaps, to break away, you should make a solo, gangsta rap album?
Yeah, I’m going to – don’t you worry. Well, not gangsta rap, but we’ve both got our own things that we want to explore.
Are you thinking that when the touring for this album’s done, you can go and work on other stuff?
No, I reckon we’ll do another album to keep it ticking over. With Slow Club, we’re compromising all the time and that makes us what we end up being. Quite a lot of songs I’ve written and quite a lot of songs Charles has written aren’t Slow Club songs because they’re too far towards one person’s tastes. We’ve both got ideas to do things. I suppose mine’s a little more tangible because I definitely want to do that kind of music but it’s not like I’m plotting to go off, it’ll just be a really satisfying thing to do to get it out of my system. It might be a few years until it happens though.
You listen to quite a lot of R&B so what sort of project would that be?
Well, have you heard of Jhené Aiko? I only heard her a few weeks ago but she’s doing exactly what it is that I want to do. It’s R&B based, but obviously I’m a chubby girl from Sheffield so I’m not going to beBeyoncé. I want it to be dark and still weird-sounding, but be really sylph-y and odd. People laugh at me about it but I will do it one day.
Who else would you like it to sound like?
I don’t want to answer the question because you’ll do this thing where you claim I’m going solo! I’m learning from these interviews [laughs]. But, there are elements of it in the new record. I’ve just not been excited by a guitar band for a while now. I mean, for me, Destiny’s Child are scientifically amazing. Actually, it’s been a relief to say, “You know what? This is what I listen to.” You spend time when you’re 13 or 14 conforming to what you should like or what’s cool but there’s so much in pop and R&B that’s instant, and that’s what you sometimes don’t get in indie music.
In the early days of Slow Club, you had a couple of tracks licensed to adverts. Did that help your career along?
Maybe a bit in America, but it’s really the only way to make money these days. With illegal downloads and stuff like that, you’re just screwed. We won’t make any money off this album so you have to find another way to do it. If somebody wants to give you some money for your songs and it means you can carry on paying rent, then you do it. I’m not ashamed of it though, everybody does it now.
Are you looking forward to going out on tour?
We’re really, really excited about it. We’ve not toured for a year, which is our longest time off since starting the band so I can’t wait to get going, turn my phone off, not exist anymore to anyone, get out of London. It’s just great, I can’t wait to see who’s out there because we’ve been away for so long.
Other than this tour, what does the next twelve months hold for you and for Slow Club?
After the tour, we’re going to America. We’ll be in Australia and Japan early next year, and then back to America. We’re going to try and do an EP over Christmas – not a Christmas EP though – which we’re going to record in Sheffield. We want to get that out because there are a few songs that we recorded in the run-up to the album that should have been on it but would have made it a bit too long. We’d like to get writing and recording next summer if we can. We’ll see what happens.


Slow Club - Paradise
released 12 September 2011 on Moshi Moshi

Is there a band who looked more likely to succumb to “second album syndrome” than Slow Club? Their first LP, Yeah So, was a delight, but it was full of the whimsical, innocent ideas of artists making their debut album, not yet jaded by the trials and tribulations of this business we call show. Yeah So whizzed along like it was powered by sherbert; even on the quieter and more reflective moments, it still felt like Slow Club were on the verge of a technicolour outburst.
But we all get older, reality sets in and we can’t stay naive forever – Yeah So Mk II was never an option. As a fan of the band, I was actually apprehensive about the release of Paradise, full of concern that they’d fail like so many had before them.
Such misgivings lasted about thirty seconds, which is roughly the time it takes for the phenomenal chorus of opening track, Two Cousins, to make an appearance. It’s a riotous stomp of a song that also feels like a significant step forward for the band. There’s an addictive guitar line, huge drums and wondrous vocals, not to mention the fact that it’s a perfect example of the happy melody/sad lyrics pop template (“I look into your eyes / But you don’t know who I am”). Two Cousins’ potency isn’t diminished by repeat plays – it really is one of the singles of 2011.
And from there, Paradise continues to go from strength to strength. With the help of producer Luke Smith (formerly of Clor), Slow Club have somehow sidestepped the potential pitfalls and have made a record which shows ambition and adventure while still possessing the hallmarks which made them such a joy before.
The real revelation of Paradise is the vocal talents of Rebecca Taylor. If Yeah So showed she was blessed with a sweet, charming voice, Paradise is where she takes it up a gear and displays her full, powerful range. It’s this which transforms tracks like Never Look Back from a ballad that’s merely good into an experience, where the song travels more distance than its four and a half minutes runtime would have you believe.
The growth of Slow Club is most evident on Beginners, with its jangly reverb and cinematic feel. Where this may have been a simple, folky number before, it now has carefully hewn melodies and backing vocals which have been crafted in support of the song. Fittingly, it also appears to be about the passing of time (“Oh, to be older”), and there’s a real emotional weight to the lyrics. Horses Jumping is also a highlight, with subtle time changes, beautiful finger-picking and yet more marvellous production framing the track.
This isn’t all meant to sound like Slow Club have forgotten how to do fun. Current single, Where I’m Waking, is probably the most immediate and danceable track they’ve ever written. Beginning with vocals echoing a catchy guitar riff, it builds throughout before ending with a celebratory cacophony of instruments. Deceptively simple drumming propels The Dog along, making it a beat-you-around-the-face song with a boisterous, singalong chorus.
Any semblance of nervousness now seems foolish. It’s difficult to imagine how, after Yeah So, Slow Club could have made a better second album. They’ve deftly struck the balance between breaking new ground and retaining their sound while making a record that has – bold statement alert – NO bad songs on it. Luckily for us, Paradise suggests that Slow Club are in it for the long haul.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Thanks to some very nice PRs, I've had the debut album by The Stepkids for a couple of months now. I won't say too much about it now, because I'll be reviewing it in the next couple of weeks, but pretty much every article I've read about the band mentions The Free Design. It's easy to see why, they've both got that dream-pop, 70s psych thing going on (except that The Free Design actually were a 70s band) which is more than a little spacey.

This all reminded me of a marvellous song by The Free Design which I first heard on 6Music last year (I think on Tom Ravenscroft's show, though it may have been Gideon Coe's). There's something wonderfully innocent and naive-sounding about it which I adore. It's probably all about drugs - this is psych we're talking about - but I've always been attracted to artists who have a child-like aspect running through their work. If I knew anything about psychology - A Level notwithstanding - I may be tempted to conclude that being drawn to this sort of thing says a lot about my attitude to the real world and how I don't like to face up to things. Anyway, I digress and besides, I think I'm doing ok.

So, in the mean time, this is Bubbles by The Free Design. I know next to nothing about this band or, really, this style of music in general, but I'd like to learn more. If anyone could point me in the direction of some further listening - perhaps a good compilation or two - I'd be very grateful.


I Break Horses - Hearts
released 22 August 2011 on Bella Union
I Break Horses are a very 2011 band. That is to say they’re reminiscent of some of the acts who have broken through this year - Washed Out or Austra. The word “chillwave” is starting to become irritatingly ubiquitous, but Hearts touches all the cornerstones so distinctly it’s difficult to get away from it. There’s a woozy, underwater feel to much of the record, and it’s clearly indebted to both the sleek electro-pop of the '80s and the reverb-heavy shoegaze of the early '90s.

This means there is a danger of Hearts fading into the background in the face of stiff opposition. Luckily for I Break Horses, they get off to a cracking start with Winter Beats – an epic track, building an atmosphere with layer upon layer of keyboard before culminating in a thrilling electro wig out. It’s stirring stuff and sets expectations high for the rest of the record.

Unfortunately, Hearts never quite hits that dizzy altitude again, but there are certainly moments of quality throughout. The two tracks that follow Winter Beats, the title track and Wired, possess Fuck Buttons-like walls of distortion and a spacey, cosmic breakdown respectively. Around two thirds through the record, however, all the chiming and shimmering seems to blend into one big wintery, codeine-laced soup. Occasional moments such as the break in reverb in Load Your Eyes - sounding like the sun busting through the clouds - are welcome, but the record becomes more dull the longer it goes on.

This may not be the band's fault. They’ve come into a saturated market and there are some real top acts ploughing a similar furrow. If it weren’t for the aptitude and invention of Junior Boys, School Of Seven Bells, Blonde Redhead and others, Hearts would sound fresher. It’s a constant struggle for individuality and, as pleasant as their music is, I Break Horses are unable to carve out a niche. They’re not helped by their insistence on burying the breathy vocals deep within the mix, meaning that although Hearts has a more “live” feel than a lot of records, it’s tricky for any real character to shine through.

This may all be unduly harsh, as Hearts is in no way a bad album, but there are just similar, better records around. It’s when I Break Horses pull away from the well-trodden formula that there’s hope for the future. The aforementioned title track creeps with a certain degree of menace, and the sunshine pop of Pulse is fit to challenge Best Coast and Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT.

It looks like the very movement bringing I Break Horses to prominence may also be the albatross around their neck, preventing them from making a real impact. There’s an overriding impression that there’s not a lot going on beneath the surface, thus, while the album a diverting listen, it’s not a truly satisfying one.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Everyone's a Winner

This coming week sees the twentieth instalment of the annual Mercury Prize ceremony. The award, which was originally conceived as an alternative to the BRIT Awards, seeks to reward the best of new British music while also celebrating that which is exciting and innovative.

One thing that can’t be denied is that the Mercury Prize stimulates debate. Some of the choices have appeared out of step with the public mood (1994 saw M People’s Elegant Slumming pip Blur’s Parklife to the crown) and on occasion, the subsequent weight of expectation makes winning the Mercury seem a backwards step career-wise (think Talvin Singh or Klaxons).

It’s easy to knock the Mercury, but what’s rarely mentioned is that it gives all the nominated artists a significant spike in record sales and besides, what other ceremonies do we have to recognise musical achievement outside the mainstream?

Music writer Jude Rogers has been on the judging panel since 2007, and feels a sense of pride when nominated artists begin to enjoy more commercial success. “It’s what keeps me coming back!” she says, “I really hope more people get to hear the King Creosote and Jon Hopkins album this year.” Chair of the judging panel, Simon Frith agrees: “The prize fulfils my DJ/critic fantasy of getting people to listen to music I like in a much more tangible way than writing about records ever did.”

In this age of reality TV shows and public phone-ins, it’s actually refreshing to find an award that still relies solely on expert opinion and – shock, horror – decides its winner via the medium of discussion. Hundreds of artists enter their albums for the Mercury each year, and the judges have the onerous task of whittling the long-list down to just a dozen records. “Listening to every entry isn’t particularly enjoyable,” admits Jude Rogers, “but I always find new artists I’ve never heard of before and there are enough diamonds in the rough to keep me interested.”

Picking a winner from the list of twelve is slightly more of a dark art, it would appear. Upon being asked to describe the process, Jude Rogers replied that, “sadly, we’re told to keep it confidential!” Simon Frith fleshed out the process slightly: “In the course of discussions the list of possible winners is gradually shortened. The whole process is based on argument; eloquence can make a difference.” It appears that it really is as simple as locking some critics in a room and refusing to let them out until they have a unanimous verdict on a winner.

One aspect of the Mercury Prize which is always remarked upon is what has become known as the “tokenistic” nomination. This overly-harsh phrase describes the one jazz or classical album that always seems to be included on the list, but never wins (this year’s contender is Gwilym Simcock’s Good Days At Schloss Elmau). Unsurprisingly, the critics themselves don’t see such nominations as a box-ticking exercise. “There have certainly been genre-specific winners even if they haven’t yet been jazz records,” points out Simon Frith. Jude Rogers goes further, and believes that a leftfield winner isn’t so unlikely: “If it sums up the mood of the year, and is fantastic musically and creatively, of course a jazz or classical album could win.” She goes on to say, “One year, a certain entry that some people would say is from one of the “token” genres got very close to winning indeed.”

Having spoken to two of the judging panel, it seems clear that those involved are understandably keen to reinforce the positive aspects of the Mercury Prize. It seems unfairly maligned and of course, there will be choices that many people disagree with, but that’s all part of the fun. So, whoever wins on 6th September, you can rest assured that it’s a choice that hasn’t been made hastily. It’s a decision that’s been reached by a team of experts with a real love of music and a commitment to championing creativity. In a world of instant gratification and short attention spans, the Mercury Prize is something we should celebrate, whether we agree with the judges’ verdict or not.