Alt-J snag 2012 Mercury but critical response is lukewarm
Critics feel this year's winning album proves Mercury has become 'predictable' and 'irrelevant'
ECLECTIC Indie foursome Alt-J scooped the Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave last night, but among music critics their win has prompted more raised eyebrows than raised spirits.
“Personally, I’m not sure Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave is really the time capsule sound of British music in 2012,” wrote Tim Jonze, live-blogging the event for The Guardian. “It has its moments I guess”.
Jonze felt the only two artists on the shortlist whose music sounded modern and inventive were Jessie Ware and Plan B.
Alt-J’s win shows that the Mercury has become “utterly disconnected from the throbbing heart of popular music culture,” argues Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph. It’s “another nail in the coffin of the monumentally irrelevant Barclaycard Mercury Prize.”
The predictability of the Mercury has been in question ever since the shortlist was announced in September: this is the third year running that the bookies have correctly called the winner.
The  Evening Standard writes: “This might be a sign that the prize, a sometimes frustratingly obtuse entity that prides itself on considering artistic merit over sales figures, has been playing it safe.”
As for Alt-J, did they even need the Mercury? Alexis Petridis writes that An Awesome Wave “had developed such a momentum of its own that... it would probably have done just as well commercially without the awards’ patronage.”
Paul Stokes, associate editor of Q magazine, felt that Alt-J was a good choice – in the circumstances. “There isn't really one record that has summed up 2012, so whoever the panel picked, they knew there would be no consensus," he said.
"With that backdrop Alt-J is a good choice. It's an innovative, arty, but engaging and warm record, which will surprise many and make sure the prize is talked about."