Entertainment & Arts

Mercury Prize: Ten albums they missed

Four of the albums featured in the "alternative Mercury Prize" list

The Mercury Music Prize takes place on Friday, 20 November - with Florence + The Machine, Jamie xx and Wolf Alice all competing for the £20,000 prize.

The 12 candidates were whittled down from a longlist of more than 220 albums, with many popular and critical favourites discarded along the way.

Here are 10 albums that could, and perhaps should, have ranked alongside this year's finalists.

Image copyright Parlophone

Blur: The Magic Whip

A comeback that no-one, least of all Blur, thought would happen, The Magic Whip was created from scraps of music recorded at an "accidental" 2013 studio session in Hong Kong, booked to fill time between flights after a festival date was cancelled.

Highest UK chart position: 1

The band say: "The story of this record can be compared to a middle-aged couple, out of the blue, receiving the news that there was going to be a new baby, after the original children had grown up." Damon Albarn, speaking to Billboard.

Did you know? The album was accompanied by a comic book, in which the members of Blur travel to the future.

Image copyright Virgin

Chvrches: Every Open Eye

With corrugated synths and glistening melodies, Glasgow's Chvrches refined their synth-pop sound while finding new emotional depths in singer Lauren Mayberry's vocals.

Highest UK chart position: 4

The band say: "We all love pop music. It's great fun to play music and see people actually dancing. I'm sick and tired of being at gigs where it's just a bunch of bearded guys." Iain Cook, speaking to Pitchfork.

Did you know? The album was recorded in a small basement flat in Glasgow. Listen carefully to the closing track, Afterglow, and you'll hear the radiator clinking.

Image copyright Infectious Records

Drenge: Undertow

Grungy, sinister and drenched in echo, Drenge's second album marked a significant progression from the adolescent snarl of their debut. It was produced by Ross Orton, who previously won a Mercury nomination for his work on the Arctic Monkeys' AM.

Highest UK chart position: 14

The band say: "Musically, this record is really, really funny," Eoin Loveless, speaking to DIY Magazine.

Did you know? Drenge is the Danish word for brothers.

Image copyright Sony / RCA

Everything Everything: Get to Heaven

Tackling everything from Ebola to terrorist beheadings, Get To Heaven is the result of a prolonged bout of anxiety and depression. But the doom-laden lyrics are offset by the Manchester band's intricately-constructed arrangements and restless, euphoric melodies.

Highest UK chart position: 7

The band say: "After we'd finished the record, I read the lyrics back and I realised I'd written a horror bible." Frontman Jonathan Higgs, speaking to the BBC.

Did you know? The track Fortune 500 describes a fictional assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth II.

Image copyright Transgressive / Warner Bros

Foals: What Went Down

Rabid riffs and urgent grooves populated Foals' fourth album, which the Oxford quintet described as their heaviest yet. But frontman Yannis Philippakis delivered some appropriate visceral imagery ("I buried my heart in a hole in the ground") but also turned in the band's most tender love song yet on the rain-swept single Give It All.

Highest UK chart position: 3

The band say: "I just want to go out and devastate some stages. I want to get to this point where we're this ruthless and elegant machine." Yannis Philippakis in the NME.

Did you know? The album was recorded in Saint-Remy-de Provence, the village where Van Gogh once spent time in a psychiatric ward after cutting off his ear.

Image copyright Warner Bros

Lianne La Havas: Blood

Lianne La Havas' shoulder-rubbing exploits with Prince and Stevie Wonder certainly paid off, with her second album immersed in rhythmic, jazz-inflected soul. Blood tackles themes of family and identity, with much of the record written on a trip to Jamaica, her mother's homeland.

Highest UK chart position: 2

She says: "I've got two albums under my belt now. I'm a lot more experienced in the studio, so the way I make music is different." Speaking to Exclaim Canada.

Did you know? Before she became a solo artist, La Havas sang backing vocals for Paloma Faith.

Image copyright Fiction

The Maccabees: Marks to Prove It

Galeforce rock songs and breathy, twilit guitar pop, inspired by the ever-changing nature of Elephant and Castle, in The Maccabees' native London, where the album was made.

Highest UK chart position: 1

The band say: "One of the record's strengths is that, were you to only listen to the first and last song, I'm not sure you'd think they were the same band." Frontman Orlando Weeks, speaking to Gold Flake Paint.

Did you know? Marks To Prove It was recorded in the same studio as the theme song for Father Ted.

Image copyright Atlantic Records

Marina and the Diamonds: Froot

Introspective electro-pop from a singer who got fed up with the pop machine. Recorded with a live band, it dispensed with the Welsh singer's quirks for a more sophisticated, soul-searching sound.

Highest UK chart position: 10

She says: "When you have a theatrical, distinctive image people get distracted. They think it's more shine than artistry." Speaking to the BBC.

Did you know? The album was initially released, one song at a time, over six months.

Image copyright Mute

New Order: Music Complete

The band's first album without founding member Peter Hook, Music Complete nonetheless won dozens of "return to form" reviews, thanks to its solid pop hooks and cameos from Iggy Pop, Brandon Flowers and La Roux.

Highest UK chart position: 2

The band say: "It was like a football team with two strikers and one of them won't pass the ball, but keeps missing the goal." Bernard Sumner, discussing Peter Hook's departure in The Guardian.

Did you know? Bernard Sumner was played by John Simm in the 2002 Tony Wilson biopic, 24 Hour Party People.

Image copyright Test Card Recordings

Public Service Broadcasting: The Race For Space

Public Service Broadcasting's high-concept second album mixed archive audio footage from the US-Soviet space race with sparse electronic beats, bubbling synthesizers and, on a track about Yuri Gagarin, energetic pop-funk.

Highest UK chart position: 11

The band say: "It involved a fair amount of reading, watching a number of documentaries and, of course, scouring the Nasa Audio Collection and the BFI Archives." J Wilgoose, talking to Brighton's Finest.

Did you know? The only available audio of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova - the first woman in space - was spoiled by an male, British translation, so the band called in pop group Smoke Fairies to re-interpret her words.

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