There’s always one omission from the Mercury shortlist that has the NME team collectively scratching our heads in disbelief. Last year, we couldn’t fathom how Metronomy’s ‘Night’s Out’ wasn’t deemed an absolutely ideal candidate. Wow, that one still smarts actually, *shudder*.
There’s some great albums in this year’s list, no doubt. Seven NME cover stars no less. No one can deny the revelatory impact a band like The XX have had. Or the amazing organic stir that Mumford have caused over the past 18 months.
But this year’s token omission feels particularly glaring. In the same way that Klaxons’ winning the prize felt like a real win for new music back in 2007, or Dizzee did back in 2003, this feels like a loss.
Scanning the shortlist yesterday, I felt like a Barcelona fan reading their Champions League Final team sheet just before kick-off to discover the gaffer has somehow managed to leave Messi at home – not only technically the most apt player, but one whose whole approach, flair and mentality embodies everything that the competition is supposed to be about. The same can be said of the Mercury Prize and These New Puritans’ landmark second album ‘Hidden’.
As Klaxons’ Jamie Reynolds put it on Twitter: “No Mercury Prize nomination for These New Puritans: nonsensical”.
When ‘Hidden’ arrived at that start of this year, it was one of those magical surprise moments where you remember what it feels like to hear something completely new. Those moments come round a few times every decade, maybe. A record that felt cinematic, anthemic, sexy, smart, scary and challenging all at once: how often does that happen?
‘Hidden’ was a reason to be proud of not just of this country’s musical output, but of new music as a whole, and the way things were unfolding and taking shape. All spheres of music fans joined forces in revelling in what an amazing thing it was, from tabloid hacks to muso nerds.
Again – like with Klaxons – it felt like something was happening. Good forces were at work, again.
The album married so many tribes that previously seemed so disparate – from classical to dancehall, from minimal techno glossy-pop, from punk to Dirty South rap – in an effortless and unpretentious manner. Showcased stunningly by SBKTRKT’s masterful reworking of ‘We Want War’ on Mary-Anne Hobbs’ standard-bearing bass culture Radio 1 show here:
I’m designing black TNPS arm bands as we speak. We’ve already had a few orders, too. From a tellingly broad cross-section of fans, we asked some well-known music bods what they thought:
“To paraphrase Kanye West, ‘When TNPS don’t get nominated, the awards lose credibility’. These New Puritans made the most bizarrely beautiful and British album of the past year. And now I’m out £20.”
“It’s a crying shame such a beautifully orchestrated masterpiece hasn’t been given the recognition it deserves. TNPS are a credit to the British music industry and will continue to push boundaries for countless albums to come”.
Sam Rumney, Zane Lowe producer, Radio 1
“Really surprised at the omission of ‘Hidden’ from the Mercury Prize. A record that did the seemingly impossible: managed to collapse the sound of six foot drums, children’s choirs and sharpening knives into a beautiful and chilling recording of a once existent civilisation. Sad that a record so charged with creativity wont get the exposure the prize generates.”
Simon Taylor-Davies, Klaxons (2007 Winners)
“I reckon the Mercury judges have really missed a trick in not nominating These New Puritans’ ‘Hidden’ album. Where else could you find traces of the Wu Tang Clan and Benjamin Britten on one LP? It (and they) are riddled with genius.”
-Marc Riley, DJ, 6Music
A rehearsal snippet of next single ‘Hologram’
Let us know what you think about the nominations. Who do you think was cruelly missed out? Who were the most deserved inclusions? Do you agree that the likes of Corinne Bailey Ray better represent the defining crest of exciting new British music in 2010 than TNPS?