The shortlist for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize have been announced. Among the nominees for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland are a few bands expected to be there -- James Blake, Adele, Tinie Tempah -- mixed with a few surprises -- Everything Everything, and Metronomy. Now, I have been a fan of Metronomy for some years now -- I was hooked when I first heard their song "You Could Easily Have Me," which was featured on the 2007 Shockrock compilation -- and I was rather pleasantly surprised to see their latest album The English Riviera was including on the shortlist.
It seems my favorite nominee on the Mercury Prize shortlist (Maxïmo Park, Young Knives, Wild Beasts) never wins, so I must take this time to reveal five reasons why I think Metronomy should win the 2011 Mercury Prize.
5. The English Riviera is their third album, thus the award would be for their entire discography
We've all seen a favorite band progress and mature from album to album, but Metronomy's progression from their 2006 debut Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) to The English Riviera, which was released this past April, is staggering. There is still the random charm of the band from their early days present in The English Riviera, but gone are is confounding bizarreness that the band perhaps prided themselves on in their formative years. There was, obviously, another album to help bridge the gap between Metronomy's first and their current, third album, but I'll get to that later.
4. Metronomy's evolution into lyrics
Pip Paine was a markedly instrumental effort for the band, which is how the band got its start in the first place -- making experimental electronic music. When Nights Out was released in 2008, it featured vocals from Metronomy's founder/composer/producer Joseph Mount, as well as new member Anna Prior. The result was tricky at first, but it soon became evident that Mount was onto something -- that he had just discovered a new way to make his band appeal to an even wider audience. Just listen to the difference between "You Could Easily Have Me" (from Pip Paine) and "Radio Ladio" (from Nights Out).
3. The songs "Radio Ladio," "My Heart Rate Rapid" and "Heartbreaker" from 2008's Nights Out
These three songs, while off Metronomy's last album Nights Out, are what I believe solidified the band's place in today's music scene. Pip Paine was an intriguing debut, but Nights Out was a solid, serious follow-up -- I say serious because there are points when it sounds as if Mount is just aimlessly fucking around on Pip Paine. Nights Out is an incredibly cohesive, polished album, thanks in part to the three-song arc of "Radio Ladio," "My Heart Rate Rapid" and "Heartbreaker." The lyrical content is deep and the songs' composition is tight as ever -- there are still the basic elements of Metronomy's nascent beginnings, but these three songs showed just what the band was truly capable of -- something we would finally get to see with The English Riviera.
2. Metronomy's extensive list of remixes
It's not one thing for Joseph Mount to pour his talents into Metronomy -- no, he has to go and accrue an impressive list of remixes. That list includes remixes of such artists like Lykke Li, Late of the Pier, Franz Ferdinand, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Klaxons and Air. The remixes are irreverent as Mount can be, harkening back to the early days of Metronomy. Mount has previously said that he gets very much involved in remixing, denoting that he takes the process very seriously and wants to put his best product out there. Oddly enough, the best remix I have heard involving Metronomy is Erol Alkan's Extended Rework of "The Bay," perhaps the finest song on Metronomy's latest album The English Riviera.
1. The songs "We Broke Free," "The Look" and "The Bay" from the Mercury Prize-Nominated The English Riviera
For starters, it feels awesome to write that The English Riviera is Mercury Prize-Nominated -- the album started off as an enigma to me, but repeated listens have rendered it as one of my favorite albums of 2011. I used to think it was the most underrated album of the year, but it's hard to label a Mercury Prize-nominated album as such.
The core of The English Riviera are the three songs "We Broke Free," "The Look" and the aforementioned "The Bay" -- all three different, all three vital elements to the album's magnificence. "We Broke Free" is a mellow offering -- initially confounding to a point as it is the album's second track and sounds like nothing Metronomy had produced to that point. Yet the song has an underlying tenacity that grows and grows on you after each listen. "The Look," with its piano/synth melody that evokes some shitty carnival ride, continues to showcase the staggering range of Metronomy on the album, throwing together bass, acoustic guitar and a güiro all at once. "The Bay," by far the album's best track, has elements of early Metronomy mixed with the band's now-mature sensibilities. Gbenga Adelekan's bass playing is at its funkiest, yet it's the song's early verse crescendo that dissipates into the all-encompassing chorus where the song -- and the album, itself -- are defined. "The Bay," to me, is Metronomy's career-defining moment -- a perfect song rewarded with a nomination towards the highest award a British band can achieve.
Only time will tell who will win the Mercury Prize, as the winner will be announced on September 6. Until then I will just have to listen to The English Riviera even more, celebrating the journey that Metronomy has made up to this point. Please enjoy the cheeky video for "The Bay" while you wait for the winner to be announced: