The 2018 Mercury Prize nominations landed today, and as usual the only thing we can all agree on is that there are some glaring omissions. We've picked 12 excellent records that we believe deserve more recognition - these are the albums that missed the Mercurys but definitely need to be heard...
Goat Girl is the voice of a group that quite sincerely don’t give a shit what those commenters think. Because this isn’t for them. This is for the discontent, furious youth who are just trying to find their lot in life. Funny, raging, unpredictable and electric, this is a record that feels alive.
Here Lies the Body holds a sweeter and more sentimental Moffat than one might expect. Some of these songs could be parallel universe versions of Arab Strap tales; the scenes quite similar, but the perspective lightened, finding tender humor in human intimacy that’s tart but not bitter.
Nostalgia, particularly when commercially-driven, can often feel cold and empty. Tokyo-born British popstar Rina Sawayama however, channels her rose-tinted memories of late-'90s/early-'00s popular culture into RINA, an excellent mini-album that challenges the problems of the present rather than merely pander to the past.
This third album sees Hookworms moving away away from the cosmic punk of their past, although barely concealed rage remains evident. More than anything else however, groove-based propulsion informs proceedings this time. With their studio out of action while being rebuilt, the band focused on creating samples and loops which alongside use of modular synths has naturally led to a more electronic sound, one which suits them perfectly.
Geography has much that appeals, not least that it’s one of those rare records that doesn’t fit neatly in to one genre. With it, Misch has cemented his place as one of the UK’s top independent producers of the moment, and looks set to only grow in confidence.
If you haven’t heard of him yet, Dave has become one of the stand-out grime artists of the last year, which is no mean feat in a scene that seems to be overflowing with talent right now. Did Drake’s remix of “Wanna Know” help get Dave some much-needed visibility (to the tune of over 15 million YouTube views)? Yes. Is that why you should care about him? No.
Mogwai excavate acquainted territory to reveal real forward motion and a slew of new-fangled ideas. Even for a band who have never flirted with the idea of faking it, the impetus that drives this release forth is tangible; each sober reflection and breakneck expulsion stems directly from a very real and none-more-vital source.
Years & Years’ second album Palo Santo presents frontman Olly Alexander as a commanding presence in the spaces that he once negotiated tentatively... now the roles are clear: he’s the protagonist, the main event. His authority is awakened and evidenced by his self-assurance on the dancefloor, and the fully-formed conviction of his voice.
Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides is difficult to comprehend, and even knowing the meaning doesn’t make “I love every person’s insides” any less weird. But there always is a meaning, and that’s what makes SOPHIE vital as an artist. If transgender people continue to face the scrutiny they do now, there are worse people to lead the charge than someone who exemplifies every bad thing a transphobe could say, then turns it into a source of strength.
Earl Grey’s range is ambitious, and it's executed with a gratifying versatility that lets it hold its head high when nodding to '60s psychedelic pop, '90s Britpop and sweaty pub indie. It’s an impressive signal of intent from Girl Ray, balancing adolescent candour with an astute songcraft – seldom cloying, seldom overreaching. Time is very much on their side.
Glancing at the artwork for Cocoa Sugar, one is instantly reminded of Francis Bacon’s work. With its distorted and menacing anatomy, it simultaneously provokes both revulsion and awe. Like Bacon, Young Fathers have often borrowed inspiration from far-reaching genres to create their own unique art and socio-political commentary. Cocoa Sugar is the sound of the three-piece brilliantly streamlining their art to piercing and disarming effect.
Inspired by the contrast between the gritty modern world and the magnificence of nature, the nine absorbing tracks revolve full circle throughout the album, as we descend from pulsing electronica into serene ambience. Hopkins’ fascination with meditation is also a predominant theme throughout too; each song taking the listener into a transcendent state of euphoria or tranquillity.