Who should take gold in the Mercury?

Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM, the latest instalment in the Arctic Monkey’s compellingly entertaining evolution, is a rhythmic and wickedly suave portrait of four exquisitely talented rockers in their 20s having a lot of fun and – perhaps more relevantly here – a lot of sex. The groove on this album is spectacular: it features the dirtiest of snarling guitar riffs, greatly entertaining Rolling Stones-style ‘whoo-whoos’, chunky Dr. Dre-indebted basslines (the band spent the last year living on the West Coast), and smart layered harmonies that replicate the vibes of the funkiest 1990s r’n’b cuts. And, of course, there’s the bitingly sharp and intelligent lyricism that now comes as a given on any Alex Turner record. “I just want you to do me no good,” he croons on ‘No.1 Party Anthem’. It’s all really terrific fun.  Continue reading

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The Mercury Prize: Stick or twist?

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Imperfect and confused, the Mercury Prize is in need of a clearer mission aim. But it still serves an important purpose in a musical landscape now dominated by singles releases.
 
This week, the shortlist of nominations for the 2013 Mercury Prize was announced, bringing with it the latest series of discussions over the future of an award which has steadily fallen in prestige since its promising conception over twenty years ago.  Continue reading