8 Sep 2014

Why The Mercury Prize Should Be Eagulls'


The Mercury Prize is another one of those oh-so-prestigious music prizes that really couldn't phase me less. Every year it's 12 nominees generally consist of a couple of pretty good mainstream alternative records, some more obscure ones that I don't really care about, and about 7 turgid middle-of-the-road LPs of elevator music; and one of these generally wins. Last year, James Blake took the prize with his debut, which, whilst not a bad record, is the absolute embodiment of 6/10. The year before that, alt-J won it, with their debut. Which is kind of the same as the James Blake record, but the guy's less good at singing. And the year before that, well, I won't hear a word against PJ.

But the point I'm making is that generally, the winner of the Mercury Prize isn't really worth batting an eyelash at, and despite the fact it was set up to combat the BRITS, it's just the same as those. But this year, quite a few albums have been released that I think should 100% win the Mercury. But probably won't.

And, well, there have been a host of brilliant, 50%-or-more British albums released since the last prize was given out. Most recently, The Wytches Annabel Dream Reader and Honeyblood's Honeyblood. Alongside that, the year's seen releases from the likes of East India Youth, Cheatahs, Black Moth and Temples. But for me there's one album that's head over heels ahead of these, and head over heels better than the recent past winners...

Hailing from Leeds, Eagulls unique brand of cold dark post-punk is an absolute breath of fresh air from the hazey smog that is everything to be nominated for a Mercury last year. Last year, they infamously wrote an open letter to the richer quotient of the UK indie contingent; in which they addressed 'the beach bands sucking each other's dicks' and bands that dress like 'Disney characters' - giving them a good 'FUCK RITE OFF'. At the time, I was a bit "hmmm?", but now the haze has ascended and they've released a bit of music, it looks like Eagulls are just the coolest fucking band in the whole fucking world, to go with their cool-as-fuck attitude.

Their debut came this year, and it was just breathtaking. Over about 35 minutes of northern anger and 10 songs that could probably be singles, they showcased one of the single greatest British albums of the last ten years. Eagulls possess a raw energy, and a seething hatred, and they've practically reinvented what we now know as 'punk'. Although they released a pretty good EP a couple of years back, the Eagulls LP is a gargantuan leap; akin to the leap from the scratchy Warsaw punk sound to the Unknown Pleasures that Eagulls' #1 influence underwent in late '78.

It's more than just the attitude and the influence that means that Eagulls should win the Mercury. The album really is streets upon streets above their contemporaries; the Shadowplay-esque Soulless Youth is a song that summarises a generation in the same way Anarchy In The UK Does. Nerve Endings showcases a swarm of menacing guitars that are unparalleled by no-one but fellow northern post-punk icons Magazine. And Possessed is literally the perfect pop song, one beyond reach of the 'rich' indie bands with 'vile comedic mock American accents' could ever muster, proving that the Leeds five-piece can do exactly what they want.

I know that the Mercury has historically gone for the less offensive, quiet outsider in the corner, but Eagulls should definitely see their brash brand of post-punk weasel it's way to the top. It's powerful, charismatic, and yields an attitude that is so clearly needed in today's climate, where bands with as little charisma as alt-J are celebrated and (to quote Mark E Smtih) flair is punished.


I'm not sure what the point in this post was, but you should buy the Eagulls LP. (here)


(written by calum cashin)