Sep 09, 2021
By Mark Redfern
London-based singer Arlo Parks has won the 2021 Mercury Prize for her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, released back in January via Transgressive. Watch her accept the award and perform the album’s “Too Good” at the ceremony tonight. The BBC have also shared ceremony performances from other nominees, including Wolf Alice; Mogwai; Black Country, New Road; and Laura Mvula. Watch it all below.
Since 1992 the Mercury Prize has been awarded to the best British album of the year, meaning an album created by a citizen of the U.K. and Ireland. It’s become one of the biggest honors a British musician can receive and can also boost an album’s sales in the U.K., especially if it wins.
Michael Kiwanuka won last year. British rapper Dave won in 2019. Wolf Alice previously won in 2018 for their sophomore album Visions of a Life. In 2017 Sampha won, the year before it was Skepta, and the year before that it was Benjamin Clementine. The Mercury Prize started out strong with Primal Scream’s Screamadelica winning in 1992 and Suede’s self-titled debut winning in 1993. There have been lots of great artists who have also won since, including Pulp, Elbow, Portishead, Franz Ferdinand, and others. Although they don’t always get it right and there have been some forgettable winners as well. PJ Harvey is the only artist to win the Mercury Prize twice.
Read our review of Collapsed in Sunbeams here.
Pick up our current print issue (Issue 68) to read our interview with Parks about the album.
Parks had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “My album is a series of vignettes and intimate portraits surrounding my adolescence and the people that shaped it. It is rooted in storytelling and nostalgia—I want it to feel both universal and hyper specific.”
When Collapsed In Sunbeams was announced, Parks shared the single “Green Eyes,” via a video for the track (which features Clairo). “Green Eyes” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared another song from the album, “Alone,” via a touching video in which Parks supports a depressed friend. Parks then shared a video for the song “Caroline,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Parks previously shared Collapsed In Sunbeams’ “Hurt,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she performed the album’s “Black Dog” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Then she performed the album’s “Hope” on The Late Late Show with James Corden. In July she shared an Unknown Mortal Orchestra remix of “Too Good.”
Mercury Prize 2021 Nominees:
Arlo Parks: Collapsed In Sunbeams
Black Country, New Road: For the First Time…
Celeste: Not Your Muse
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra: Promises
Ghetts: Conflict of Interest
Hannah Peel: Fir Wave
Laura Mvula: Pink Noise
Mogwai: As the Love Continues
Nubya Garcia: SOURCE
SAULT: Untitled (Rise)
Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend