Mercury Music Prize 2009: Preview

You often wonder what the point is of issuing odds for the Mercury Music Prize. It's a well-known fact that the judges never pick the favourite.

Therefore when odds are assigned making one album the favourite, that album is automatically not the favourite, thus making it the second favourite. This shift likely makes the album even more attractive to the judges, thus making it the favourite again. But wait! Now it's the favourite.... you can see where this is going: it's like a time paradox.

Florence + The Machine have the honour/curse of being the favourite this year. With odds of 11/4, they're a fair amount ahead of their closest rivals Bat For Lashes, who weigh in at 9/2 odds.

Out of the choices below, we'd like to think that Friendly Fires deserve the oversized cheque, although the sneaking suspicion that The Horrors will pip them at the post is difficult to shake off. As long as it isn't Glasvegas, we're good.

The nominees, their descriptions, the judges blurb and the odds are all reproduced below.

Florence + the Machine / Lungs

Florence + the Machine is singer-songwriter Florence Welch. She grew up in South London, where she attended Camberwell School of Art. 'Lungs' was certified Gold in the week of its release in July 2009. It features the singles 'Kiss with a Fist', 'Dog Days are Over' and 'Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)'.

''Lungs' is a bold and exciting showcase for a maverick new voice on the British music scene. A work of art and power.'
ODDS: 11/4

Bat for Lashes / Two Suns

Released in April 2009, 'Two Suns' is the second album from Natasha Khan’s Bat for Lashes.

The multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter co-produced the album with Faultline’s David Kosten. It features a duet with Scott Walker and includes the singles 'Daniel’ and 'Pearl’s Dream'.

'Beautifully crafted music of magic and intrigue. Ravishing songs of intimacy and imagination.'
ODDS: 9/2

The Horrors / Primary Colours

The Horrors are a five-piece band from Southend-on-Sea, that formed in 2005. Primary Colours', their second album, was released in May 2009 on XL Recordings.

The album was recorded in Bath and produced by the band, along with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. It features the singles 'Who Can Say' and 'Sea within a Sea'.

'A remarkable second album! The Horrors have a thrilling new sonic palette and 'Primary Colours' is an absorbing exploration of the art of melodic noise.'
ODDS: 6/1

Lisa Hannigan / Sea Sew

Released in May 2009, 'Sea Sew' is the debut album by Dublin’s Lisa Hannigan. She is perhaps best known for her collaborations with fellow Irish songwriter Damien Rice. 'Sea Sew', which has gone platinum in Ireland, is the first release on her own label, Hoop. It includes the single 'I don’t know'.

'Lisa Hannigan steps into the limelight with a set of exquisite acoustic songs. Haunting, addictive and enchanting.'
ODDS: 7/1

Speech Debelle / Speech Therapy

'Speech Therapy', the debut album by South Londoner Speech Debelle, was released in June 2009 by the influential Big Dada label. It features contributions from Micachu, Tunng’s Mike Lindsay and label-mate Roots Manuva. The album includes the much praised single 'The Key'.

'A remarkable new voice in UK hip-hop, tough, warm and reflective. Wonderfully supple rhymes and beautifully subtle music.'
ODDS: 15/2

Friendly Fires / Friendly Fires

Friendly Fires are a three-piece band, consisting of Ed Macfarlane, Edd Gibson and Jack Savidge. The trio first met during their school years in their home-town of St.Albans.

Their self-titled début album was released back in September of 2008 via XL Recordings and includes the singles 'Jump in the Pool', 'Skeleton Boy' and 'Paris'.

'An exuberant, exhilarating album deftly fusing dance, rock and great British pop!'
ODDS: 9/1

La Roux / La Roux

La Roux are made up of singer Elly Jackson from South London and co-writer/co-producer Ben Langmaid.

La Roux’s debut album reached number two in the charts on its release in June 2009. It features the singles 'In for the Kill' and 'Bulletproof', which went to number one.

'Quicksilver synth-pop duo for our times. Every track unerringly hits its target!'
ODDS: 10/1

Kasabian / West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Kasabian are a five-piece band from Leicestershire, who formed in 1999. 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum', their third album, reached number one in the UK charts on its release in June 2009. Produced by Sergio Pizzorno and Dan the Automator, the album includes live favourite 'Fire', the band’s fourth top 10 single.

'Kasabian gleefully seize the psychedelic heights! Explosive songs that fill epic rock spaces with absolute authority."
ODDS: 10/1

Glasvegas / Glasvegas

Glasvegas are a four-piece band who formed in Glasgow in 2003. The band is fronted by James Allen, who wrote all the songs on their self-titled debut album. 'Glasvegas' reached number two in the UK charts on its release in September 2008. Produced by Rich Costey and
James Allen, it features the top 20 singles 'Geraldine' and 'Daddy’s Gone'.

'The bitter sweet sounds of the classic rock 'n' roll ballad return freshly minted in these gloriously elegiac anthems of contemporary life.'
ODDS: 18/1

Sweet Billy Pilgrim / Twice Born Men

Sweet Billy Pilgrim are a trio from Buckinghamshire, fronted by songwriter Tim Elsenberg and featuring Anthony Bishop and Alastair Hamer. 'Twice Born Men' is their second album and was released by David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label in March 2009. They recently worked with fellow folk/electronic artist Adem on a commission for the BBC.

''Twice Born Men' takes the listener into a strange, dislocated and compelling musical landscape. Magical and thrilling.'
ODDS: 25/1

Led Bib / Sensible Shoes

Formed in 2003, Led Bib are a London-based quintet of dual saxes, keyboards, bass and drums. 'Sensible Shoes' is the group’s third album and was released by Cuneiform records in May 2009. An acclaimed live act, they performed as part of Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown Festival in June 2009 at the Royal Festival Hall.

'Hard rock meets jazz virtuosity in a rollercoaster ride on this startling and irresistible album.'
ODDS: 40/1

The Invisible / The Invisible

The Invisible are London-based musicians Dave Okumu, Leo Taylor and Tom Herbert.

They have lent their individual talents to the likes of Hot Chip, Polar Bear and Zongamin. This, their debut album, was released in March 2009 on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental label. It features the singles 'Monsters Waltz' and 'London Girl'.

'Virtuoso club funk. The Invisible get into a deep and alluring groove that draws you in and won’t let go!'
ODDS: 40/1

All of which leaves the questions for all of you, who do you think should win, and who do you think will win?

Impart some knowledge to us using the comments form below.

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