Harry Edmundson reviews the Mercury Prize 2019
The Mercury Prize has always been a captivating night for the British music industry and this year was no exception.
Historically, the prize has commended cultural cornerstones for the UK’s greatest talents, through historic wins for the Arctic Monkeys and their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – as well as Dizzee Rascal’s seminal debut ‘Boy In Da Corner’. No matter the genre, the Prize boasts an impressive and esteemed list of previous winners.
This year saw Dave join that list with his excellent debut Psychodrama. Dave’s refreshingly honest lyricism on the record discussed race, mental health, and life as a young black man in South London – helping him top charts and further increase the meteoric rise of Britain’s shining star.
No matter the genre, the Prize boasts an impressive and esteemed list of previous winners.
The win was not without competition, however.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships by The 1975 was their third and best record to date tackling politics, technology, addiction alongside glitchy, catchy, indie-pop perfection.
Joy as an Act of Resistance by Idles provided the world with a close to perfect punk record that brutally dissects issues of toxic masculinity, immigration, and austerity with all the riffs and screams to change society for the better.
Foals latest record Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt. 1 took their indie, math-rock roots and transformed them into
Fontaines DC, a personal
Slowthai also provided the event with its most shared moment, a gorily decapitated head of PM Boris Johnson held proudly during his electrifying performance
Nao’s soulful Saturn delivered an abundance of vocal talent against a romantic and dreamy track list.
Slowthai’s Nothing Great About Britain could also have walked away with the award. An album unafraid to show personality whilst tackling Britain’s most pressing issues. Slowthai also provided the event with its most shared moment, a gorily decapitated head of PM Boris Johnson held proudly during his electrifying performance of Mura Masa collaboration ‘Doorman’.
A final honourable mention goes to north London native Little Simz, who was nominated for GREY Area. An album that combines expert wordplay and flow with energy and reflections worth your time.
Ultimately, the ‘best’ of the very best was Dave for Psychodrama and, as always, many deserving albums missed out. However, Dave backs popularity with skill and talent and for a debut as strong and emotive as Psychodrama, it is impossible to imagine this year not including a Mercury Prize win for one of the most exciting acts who is unlimited in potential. Listen to Psychodrama with urgency and attention, it truly is a remarkable record. If you disagree, listen to any other nominee’s record this year – the only true winner this year is us, the fans, blessed with 12 astonishing albums that we will revisit for years to come.