The 2019 Mercury Prize shortlist was unveiled this morning (25 July), and as usual we've put together a list of 12 albums that we believe deserved recognition in this year's shortlist (although plenty of our faves are already recognised in the official list).
This is, as advertised by the record label, a "very special debut album indeed". It’s evidently, demonstrably, and obviously a flawless work of genius, and may just be one of the best albums this writer has heard this decade.
Negro Swan details, in Dev Hynes’ words, "an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color." In many ways, it’s the dark side of his last record, 2016’s Freetown Sound.
Miss Universe is where the fictional feels more real than what we see everyday. It builds a space where the constant judgement of the every day world is blocked out. For Yanya, this is a masterful debut that, like a tasting menu, looks jarring on paper but, in practice, is tantalising, surprising and undoubtedly impressive
Carner is a storyteller at heart, a poet with a deep love of hip-hop that forms an unbridled approach to song-structure. In moments, this sporadic mix of subject matter and juxtaposing influences can become too much to digest in one sitting, however, the sheer brilliance in musicianship and the number of perfectly curated features from the likes of Tom Misch, Jorja Smith, Sampha, and Jordan Rakei are more than enough to convince you to stay.
Devotion is an album that cuts through the filters that we often put on our lives. We’re conditioned to believe that everything has to be polished and perfected, before it can be considered to be finished. But in reality, sometimes the things that are created in the moment hit us the hardest. Tirzah has made 11 raw, honest, and beautifully unusual pop songs that will remain with you whether you like it or not, bringing you back time and time again, motivated by your devotion to this record.
Where certain singles and 2015’s Small Talk EP were wrapped in the drama and intensity of the club, Language is satisfyingly expansive, exploring the connection between communication and physicality in contemporary queer relationships.
Compromise and outside expectations of others began to take its toll on the confidence of the ex-Slow Club member, who in being one half of a duo always felt as if she were a "meek" version of her actual self. Shedding the weight of expectation that comes with being part of an acclaimed act (the band released five albums) to partake on a voyage of creative self-discovery has led to Taylor to release the last of the restraints that were holding her back.
Skewing glossy sugar-laced melodies with low-key unvarnished folk, the Derry-based singer songwriter exhibits increasing versatility on this accomplished sophomore release.
These young Mancunians have perfected what makes pop such an addictive, essential genre, and My Mind Makes Noises is both immediate and idiosyncratic. Pale Waves’ presence may be gloomy, but their songwriting and ambition could not be brighter.
Conscious, self-conscious, and socially conscious, Emotional Education is the work of two young women standing on a precipice. As millennials cresting adulthood in the crucible of a world changing more rapidly and frighteningly than ever before, IDER use their debut album to take stock of what they’ve learnt so far. The album’s title has a twofold meaning: a documentation of IDER’s prior emotional education, and the provision of a further emotional education to those willing to listen.
Khan’s self-titled debut LP picks up where "Eden" left off; all morphed, contorted vocals amidst phosphorescent wobbles and bursts of electronic sound. The tracks are everything, all at once: warm, serene, frosty, sharp, propulsive, lethargic. They ooze cosmic soul, prismatic funk. The energy and spirit is human and not.
To fall flat for hyperbole, What A Boost is Rozi Plain’s best, most interesting and experimental album to date. It’s what happens when her introversions gather the worldliness and confidence to let others in. There’s all the same tenderness, all the same familiarity, but it’s never sounded this good before.
The 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize winner will be revealed on 19 September at Hammersmith's Eventim Apollo. Find out more.