We celebrate the creative achievement behind the 12 shortlisted albums, and delve into the 2022 Mercury Prize ‘Albums of the Year’.
Every year the Mercury Prize with FREE NOW recognises a must-hear, painstakingly selected collection of outstanding new British and Irish music from the past 12 months. After listening to over 200 albums, the judges whittle it down to 12 genre-spanning recordings that unfailingly provide an insight into what is great about music in Britain and Ireland. It’s not about sales, singles, streams or even social media followers: it’s all about the album.
And what exceptional albums they are for 2022! The line-up of shortlisted albums includes a staggering five debuts, a supremely positive indication of the wealth of new talent breaking through, as well as previously Mercury Prize shortlisted artist Little Simz.
Bowers & Wilkins continues its support for the Mercury Prize as Official Audio Partner, built on a shared passion for music and the album format as a body of work and wanted to celebrate the exceptional craft and creativity that goes into each and every one of these albums.
For the past three years, we have been proud to play a supporting role in the judging process to help ensure that all the judges hear each of the albums as the artist intended, using our Px7 S2 over-ear wireless headphones, enabling them to consistently listen to every fine detail in the albums.
Each of the albums represent what we enjoy most about the format: it’s not about the quick fix of a single or even the undisputed thrill of a live performance, it’s about a self-contained body of work that takes you on a journey through a deeply personal story that the artist has poured their heart and soul into creating and bravely putting out into the world.
There’s something for everyone here, and plenty of opportunity for discovering new albums and artists from less mainstream genres, or even exploring music that might not have previously been on your radar. That said, the most adventurous will probably enjoy the experience of listening to it all, we know we did.
Check out our 2022 Mercury Prize playlist featuring our favourite tracks from each of the 12 Shortlisted albums here, available on various compatible streaming platforms via the Bowers & Wilkins Music App.
Album commentary from Bowers & Wilkins.
Seventeen Going Under
The ‘Geordie Springsteen’s’ second album is his best yet and further evidence that he is destined to reach dizzying heights. Chock full of crowd-pleasing examinations of youth and society at large, Fender’s song writing craft always comes to the fore, and every track both stands alone and builds to an incredibly engaging album – it’s a powerful document of a man in his late 20s re-examining his youth and the society around him.
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Little Simz’s fourth album is a masterclass in modern songcraft. Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, Simz’s second Mercury shortlisted album, is big, bold and packed with killer tunes. At times theatrical, occasionally operatic, always deeply personal, and at over an hour long, is a phenomenal album, part recorded in Abbey Road Studios on our 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers.
The self-described ‘urban-punk’ duo’s second album is without doubt the rockiest offering among this year’s nominees. Packed with big bass, pounding drums and guitar riffage from start to finish, Supernova grabs you and doesn’t let up until the very last note!
It’s hard to believe this is Joy Crookes’ debut album given the large catalogue of EPs she’s released over the past few years. But with Skin, she has delivered a masterful blend of R&B, modern soul, and pop, making for a smooth, easy going listening experience with Crookes’ deliciously soulful vocals coming to the fore. A highly personal record, Skin also manages to be cuttingly political at times, and is a masterful debut.
Self Esteem’s Prioritise Pleasure, led by the captivating Rebecca Lucy Taylor, is 45-minutes of uninterrupted pure pop perfection. It’s so full of big singles and floor fillers that also feature many powerful and poignant messages embedded in each of the tracks, completing a musical package that makes this album thoroughly deserving of its Mercury nomination.
For All Our Days That Tear The Heart
Bafta-nominated actress and former Suede guitarist combine to make one of the albums of the year. Over a dozen beautiful tracks, the pair take the listener on an enchanting journey through love, loss and everywhere in between. They take inspiration from American, Irish and English folk traditions, but this soaring album stands on its own.
Gweno’s third solo album is sung almost entirely in Cornish, with one Welsh song breaking the rules. But this album isn’t included as a linguistic curio, Tresor is a wonderful collection of songs leaning into both her folk and pop sensibilities, which proves you don’t have to understand the words to enjoy the songs.
Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie’s third album is inspired by Scotland’s nature and landscape, which like this exceptional album can be both lush and craggy. Recorded as a classic jazz trio of piano, double bass and drums, Forest Floor is an album of primarily slower tempo, contemplative pieces, with occasional moments of intense action adding some spice to the mix.
Wet Leg’s exceptional self-titled debut album saw the Isle of Wight duo immediately break through from quirky indie act to Number 1 sensations. Some cracking and playful singles such as the viral hit Chaise Longue brought the band to the attention of all the major radio stations, but this album more than lived up to the promise of those early releases.
Being nominated for such a prestigious award is the latest step on Harry Styles’ journey from Boy Band pin up to full-on creative force. A path very few others have trod with such aplomb. Harry’s House is replete with catchy pop tunes, some funky soul and the occasional slower, more contemplative number. A classic summer album, that will be played long into the winter months.
Reason to Smile
We can’t quite believe this is Kojey Radical’s debut album. He’s been an integral part of the London music scene for a decade, and classing his previous offerings merely as EPs seems to lessen their impact. So, it’s not surprising that as a debut, this incredible mix of hip-hop, neo soul and Jazz is exceptionally mature and fully realised. A breath-taking, heady mix of insightful, poignant lyrics and well-considered collaborations.
The most impassioned, most overtly political album on the list is also possibly the funniest. Leeds-based Yard Act’s debut is an astounding record that gets you dancing while remaining relevant and insightful. If you haven’t encountered them before, think Franz Ferdinand crossed with The Fall, and to our ears that’s a very good combination.
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