Mercury Music Prize 2021

This year’s shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize was announced on 22nd July. The prize celebrates albums by artists from the UK and Ireland released in the qualifying year. According to its website it is “the music equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art”. Allowing for some understandable self-promotion that’s a reasonably accurate description. It highlights recent work across a broad range of contemporary music genres and, with rare exceptions, the Crotchety Team applauds the judging panel’s tasteful selections.

This year is typical. All twelve of the albums on the shortlist have something to recommend them. There’s sophisticated indie pop from Arlo Parks, introspective hip hop from Berwyn and experimental art rock from Black Country, New Road. Celeste‘s chart-topping debut album offers “timeless, heartache-tinged soul”; Floating Point gives us an orchestral symphony in nine movements; and, at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Ghetts delivers crossover grime that even the Crotchety arch-critic can’t completely dismiss. Then there’s synthesiser-soaked cinematic sounds from Hannah Peel, soulful world music from Laura Mvula and laid back indie rock from the ever-inventive Mogwai. Nubya Garcia’s rich saxophone tones take us into accessible jazz territory, SAULT get the 80’s beat going and Wolf Alice serve up rock both sweet and sour.

This playlist features two tracks from each of the shortlisted albums, adding up to nearly two hours of listenening. Whatever your taste there’s sure to be something there that floats your boat. And, let’s face it, pretty much everything floats on liquid mercury.

Crotchety Tip: Black Country, New Road for their fresh, unpolished and variegated art rock.

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