MINIMALIST INDIE TRIO The xx have scooped the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for 2010, winning for their highly-fancied and self-titled debut album.
The band had been unbackable favourites to take the award, but beat off stiff competition from the likes of Paul Weller, Mumford and Sons, Dizzee Rascal and Irish one-man-band Villagers.
Singer Oliver Sim was shocked by the band’s success, saying: “I don’t know what we were expecting but we weren’t expecting this.
“Thank you so much. We’ve had the most incredible year and it has just felt like every day we’ve just woken up to something incredible we just weren’t expecting.”
Reacting to the award, Alexis Petridis of the Guardian writes:
[The xx laid] the most convincing claim to the prize. An opaque and unassuming album on first listen, its hushed, early-hours dynamics and undertow of sexual desire gradually work their way under the skin of the listener: there’s something nagging and compelling about the songwriting.
The band’s influences are drawn from outside the indie canon – the xx are famously fans of modern R&B, which might account for the album’s preoccupation with sultry yearning, not a mood indie music traditionally conjures: it sounds original, but isn’t abstruse enough to scare less adventurous listeners. [...]
You can imagine the profile boost of the Mercury finally pushing the xx firmly into the mainstream.
Chief judge Simon Frith said the band had a “unique sense of time and space” which led to a “wonderfully atmospheric album”.
This year’s shortlist was considered a relatively ‘safe’ selection, with judges anxious to avoid the commercial calamity of last year’s winner with rapper Speech Debelle’s album ‘Speech Therapy‘ selling fewer than 10,000 copies and failing to make the charts.
Have you listened to The xx’s album – and what did you think? Did another album deserve the prize? Let us know in the comments.