Nominees for the 2013 Mercury Prize were announced Wednesday in London, and though Pop & Hiss was totally prepared to moan about the award’s tragically blinkered view of British pop, the short list of a dozen titles turns out to be -- dare we say it? -- kind of OK.
Intended to recognize “recorded music of all genres by British or Irish artists,” according to its website, the Mercury Prize hasn’t always lived up to that catholic ideal; it tends to privilege the cerebral and the handmade at the expense of the bright and the shiny.
More disconcerting, it somehow let the dreadfully boring Alt-J win last year for its album “An Awesome Wave” -- a mere four years, mind you, after the dreadfully boring Elbow won for its album “The Seldom Seen Kid.”
Does this year’s group of nominees include more dreary indie records of that ilk? It certainly does, chief among them albums by Foals and Villagers.
And does it feature an overrated comeback disc by a veteran English rock star? Oh, let’s dance, David Bowie.
But the 2013 short list also contains “Settle” by the great club-soul duo Disclosure, which might end up as the year’s best dance album from any country. And it includes Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut, a thrillingly acerbic throwback to early-'60s Bob Dylan.
Laura Mvula, whose beautiful “Sing to the Moon” sounds like a futuristic Broadway score, is on the list too, as is the appealingly terse “Silence Yourself” by the London punk band Savages.
And there’s Arctic Monkeys’ just-released “AM,” which finds the young Sheffield outfit juicing its garage-rock guitars with sleek post-hip-hop beats. (The Monkeys, which recently relocated to L.A., won the Mercury Prize in 2006 with their debut, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.”)
Jon Hopkins, James Blake, Laura Marling and Rudimental -- but not, sadly, the fun-loving ladies of Little Mix -- round out the nominees for the award, which comes with a cash prize of 20,000 pounds (about $31,000) and is to be handed out in a ceremony at London’s Roundhouse on Oct. 30.
Watch the video for Disclosure’s “Latch” below.