Mercury Music Prize 2014: Damon Albarn and Royal Blood favourites to win prize

Big names including Lily Allen, Morrissey and Ed Sheeran have missed out

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The debut solo album from Blur frontman Damon Albarn has been nominated for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, in a year that big names including Lily Allen, Morrissey and Ed Sheeran all missed out.

Albarn’s album Everyday Robots, which features musicians including Brian Eno, has been installed as favourite for the prize by the bookies.

The judges described the singer-songwriter as “a master of melodic texture and songwriting”, adding that the album was “melancholic, wise, beautiful”. 

Among the more intriguing nominations was performance poet Kate Tempest’s debut album Everybody Down, which Independent critic Andy Gill said “sets new standards for UK hip hop”. The judges described it as “compelling and moving rap poetry”.

William Hill made Brighton-based rock band Royal Blood joint favourites with Albarn, with judges describing their eponymous debut album as “a triumphant celebration of the primal power of rock. Intense and thrilling.”

Anna Calvi’s “inspiring” second album One Breath and Bombay Bicycle Club’s fifth So Long, See You Tomorrow are among the better-known nominees.

The shortlist includes debutants such as East India Youth who recorded his Total Strife Forever at home, and Jungle, a self-produced duo who released album of the same name in July.

Dancer turned singer-songwriter Tahliah Barnett, known as FKA twigs, is also on the shortlist for her electro-pop debut called LP1, described as “artful, restless and seductive” by the judges.

Performance poet Kate Tempest started rapping on the bus (Micha Theiner)

Nick Mulvey, previously shortlisted as a member of Portico Quartet, has also received the accolade for his debut solo album First Mind.

The shortlist is rounded out by Manchester-based trio GoGo Penguin’s album v2.0, Polar Bear’s In Each and Every One and Young Fathers with Dead.

Last year James Blake picked up the £20,000 prize.