Wolf Alice took home the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize for their album, ‘Visions of a Life’. Amongst the eleven other albums the band defeated are Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino‘, Florence + The Machine’s ‘High as Hope’, and Novelist’s ‘Novelist Guy’.
The Mercury Prize is an annual award given to an artist from the UK or Ireland who has demonstrated artistic achievement. Submissions from all musical genres are accepted; around 220 entries are received each year. Twelve album submissions are then shortlisted, and one winner ultimately wins a £25,000 prize and as well as an ‘Album of the Year’ trophy.
Released in September 2017, ‘Visions of a Life’ is Wolf Alice’s sophomore effort. The album peaked at number two on UK charts, and received a rating of 81 (out of 100) on Metacritic based on twenty-one reviews. According to the BBC, Mercury Prize judges called the album “an exuberant tapestry of swirling pop, grunge, and indie guitar rock.”
Accepting their award, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Theo Ellis, and drummer Joel Amey were breathlessly enraptured. Ellis, upon taking the microphone, spoke of the first label meeting that the band ever had. “We walked into a room, and the geezer said ‘You don’t look like a band at all. What are you? What are you supposed to be? All of your songs sound different. You don’t look like each other.'” He added that they never really figured it out, but ‘there they were’.
Rowsell told the crowd “This means so much to pick this up with my three best friends.” Having experienced the Mercury Prize from the standpoint of a judge in 2016, she spoke backstage about how difficult it is to arrive at one winner from such a vast pool of music. “You get given almost 300 albums, I know the intensity and the frustration of making that decision.”
An artist’s second release is notoriously important in terms of the longevity of their career. While Wolf Alice’s debut work, ‘My Love Is Cool’, made the Mercury Prize Shortlist in 2015, the band were even more thrilled to receive a nod this year. Earlier this month, Ellis told The Independent that “Everyone’s always like, ‘that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity’, so for it to happen again … It makes us feel like we’re a proper band.”
Wolf Alice were ecstatic simply to make the shortlist. Ellie Roswell stood speechless at the podium as their win was celebrated. Experience the moment below: