10 Reasons Why Alt-J Should Win Tonight's Mercury Music Prize

Their album An Awesome Wave has had universal love and is the bookies favourite for the prestigious award; for once everyone is getting it right...
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Their album An Awesome Wave has had universal love and is the bookies favourite for the prestigious award; for once everyone is getting it right...

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1:  The opening 2 songs of An Awesome Wave are the least accessible on the album, but 'Intro' and 'Interlude 1' set the tone perfectly for the skewed folk electronics that are to follow, instantly demonstrating that this is a band that kick in the face of the theory people are only now interested in singles.

2: The voice of lead singer Joe Newman flits between a high and low register with the occasional sideways shuffle into nasal histrionics;  it’s like something from another planet, or at least another planet to one where people still believe Louis Walsh has a valid opinion on what makes a good singer.

3: They have an impeccable history of vinyl releases- Loud and Quiet released Tessellate/Bloodflood just over a year ago.  In May, their first release for Infectious Records was a triangle shaped 7 inch of ‘Matilda’ and ‘Fitzpleasure,’ which looks amazing.  Witness:

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4: The music is complex and layered with multiple vocal tracks and electronic blooping machines, but they are essentially a big pop band. Anyone can like this record- I have played it in the office, around my parents and (parts of it) in a club. Everyone went for it.

5: You would be hard-pressed to find a better quintet of singles off one album than ‘Tessellate”, ‘Matilda’, ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Something Good’ and ‘Fitzpleasure.’ Each has its own identity and is vastly different to the others; from the dark ketamine-nightmare of ‘Fitzpleasure,’’ to ‘Matilda,’ which seems a rather sweet acoustic ditty, at least until you hear: “Put the gun in your hand until you know who’s boss/My defeat slips top to toe with her success.”

6: Their lyrics veer from the impenetrable, to the dark, to the downright sleazy.  Or, in the case of 'Fitzpleasure,' a combination of all three: “In your hoof lies the heartland/Where we tent for our treasure, pleasure, leisure, les yeux, it’s all in your eyes/In your snatch fits pleasure, broom-shaped pleasure/Deep greedy and Googling every corner.”

Be that as it may, there’s always a pop melody underneath the treasures, pleasures and hooves. 'Fitzpleasure' also has a brilliant breakdown that is an album tension-snapping moment to rival 'Lucky' off OK Computer.

7:  ‘Taro’ is the sort of tune Paul Simon would have made if he's spent his late teens listening to dubstep. Violins, harmonies and a guitar effect that sounds like a 24th century mandolin combine for a folksy operatic number, that’s the closest thing they’ve got to a grand weeper.

8: There are a lot of good acts in this year’s list, despite the annual, self-congratulating shrug that comes from the music press upon the revealing of the nominations, but this is the only album, other than maybe Field Music, that is doing something truly original.  In ten years time, will anyone remember The Maccabees’ Call Of The Wild? It’s a decent record and they are ace live, but outside of their super-fanbase it seems unlikely. Richard Hawley perhaps deserves one to solidify his national treasure status, and Jessie Ware wouldn’t be a bad shout for the Sade-soul of her debut, but if you are looking for something that stands out as something genuinely undefinable, it is this.

9: That they managed to crack the top 20 is a miracle in itself, but a quick look through the music that people are listening to on Spotify reveals they’ve nudged themselves into the consciousness of people that might not always be expected to pick up on a band like this. A Mercury prize win could beckon in top spots on the Other Stage next summer.

10: Ben Howard definitely can't win.


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