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Rock­ers Wolf Alice de­fied the odds to win Bri­tain’s pres­ti­gious Mer­cury Prize for their sec­ond al­bum ‘Vi­sions of a Life’

Rock band Wolf Alice won Bri­tain’s mer­cury prize on Sept. 20 for al­bum “Vi­sions of a Life”, beat­ing off com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Noel Gal­lagher’s High Fly­ing Birds and the Arc­tic Mon­keys. The four-mem­ber band from north London, which first be­gan as a duo in 2010, took the 25,000 pound ($33,165) prize and “al­bum of the year” tro­phy, which has been awarded to a wide range of mu­sic artists since it be­gan in 1992.

“Vi­sions of a Life”, the group’s sec­ond stu­dio al­bum, won praise from crit­ics when it was re­leased last year and reached no. 2 in the UK al­bum charts.

“This has never re­ally hap­pened to us ... we’ve been nom­i­nated be­fore but we’ve never won,” band mem­ber Joel Amey said. “It’s hard to guage how these things re­ally go in your favour but so far the Mer­cury (nom­i­na­tion) has done won­ders for us get­ting to new peo­ple.”

The mer­cury prize, which is less main­stream than Bri­tain’s an­nual BRIT Awards, hon­ours mu­sic by Bri­tish and Ir­ish acts and or­gan­is­ers said this year ’s short­list cel­e­brated mu­si­cians “at all stages of their ca­reers”.

It also in­cluded al­bums by bands Florence + The Ma­chine and Ev­ery­thing Ev­ery­thing, singers Lily Allen, Na­dine Shah, Jorga Smith and King Krule, MC Novelist, jazz group Sons of Kemet and the col­lab­o­ra­tive “Ev­ery­thing is Recorded”, spear­headed by XL Record­ings founder Richard Rus­sell.

Past win­ners of the prize in­clude grime artist Skepta and mu­si­cians PJ Har­vey and Ben­jamin Clemen­tine.

“This means so much,” said vis­i­bly-stunned front­woman El­lie Rowsell as she picked up the £25,000 ($33,000) prize, which is pre­sented an­nu­ally for the best al­bum re­leased by a Bri­tish or Ir­ish artist, ac­cord­ing to a panel of judges.

The 26-year-old later said she “now knows what over­whelmed feels like”, hav­ing missed out af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated in 2015 for their de­but al­bum “My Love is Cool.”

It is the first time a rock band has won the award in six years, with book­mak­ers mak­ing post-punk singer Na­dine Shah and jazz group Sons of Kemet the pre-cer­e­mony favourites.

The north London four-piece join past win­ners in­clud­ing Pri­mal Scream, Franz Fer­di­nand, PJ Har­vey, The xx and grime star Skepta.

The band, whose crit­i­cally-ac­claimed al­bum charted at num­ber two in Bri­tain on its re­lease in Septem­ber, closed out the show with a cel­e­bra­tory, bare­foot per­for­mance of al­bum track “Don’t Delete the Kisses”.

Rowsell and gui­tarist Joff Od­die got to­gether as a two-piece folk band in 2010, tak­ing a heav­ier rock turn soon af­ter when they added a bassist and a drum­mer.

The cer­e­mony, held at the Ham­mer­smith Apollo the­atre in London, opened with a pow­er­ful per­for­mance by Florence + The Ma­chine of “Hunger”, the sec­ond sin­gle from al­bum “High as Hope,” be­fore Sons of Kemet brought the crowd to its feet with an elec­tri­fy­ing live jam.

Lily Allen an­nounced her re­turn to the spot­light with a mov­ing ren­di­tion “Ap­ples” from her raw and con­fes­sional al­bum “No Shame”.

The black-clad Shah then brought a dark in­ten­si­ty­totheevening­with­her­liveper­for­mance of “Out the Way”, star­ing wide-eyed at the star-stud­ded au­di­ence through­out the song, which ended with her on the verge of tears.

Shah, whose fa­ther moved to Bri­tain from Pak­istan, mined her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences on al­bum “Hol­i­day Des­ti­na­tion” to ex­plore the themes of xeno­pho­bia and im­mi­gra­tion, with one track clos­ing with a chant recorded at a pro-refugee rally.

“I’m so glad that that’s on there,” she told the BBC. “I wanted to be very di­rect and I wanted peo­ple to be very aware of the con­text of the al­bum.”

Con­tin­u­ing in the po­lit­i­cal vein, Sons of Kemet bagged the short­list’s usual spot for a jazz act with their anti-monar­chy al­bum “Your Queen Is a Rep­tile”.

Sh­effield rock­ers Arc­tic Mon­keys were aim­ing to be­come only the sec­ond artist to win the award twice, but missed out with their sixth stu­dio al­bum “Tran­quil­ity Base Ho­tel & Casino”.

The band’s de­par­ture to a more laid back, piano-driven sound, di­vided crit­ics and some fans, but the record be­came their sixth con­sec­u­tive num­ber-one de­but in Bri­tain, and the coun­try’s fastest-sell­ing vinyl record in 25 years.

Indie rock­ers Ev­ery­thing Ev­ery­thing and im­promptu col­lec­tive Ev­ery­thing Is Recorded, put to­gether by pro­ducer Richard Rus­sell, were also nom­i­nated, both per­form­ing live.

A pair of de­but al­bums were up for the big prize: “Novelist Guy” by grime act Novelist and “Lost and Found” by R and B artist Jorja Smith.

“This year... cel­e­brates al­bums by mu­si­cians at all stages of their ca­reers, but with a shared be­lief in the im­por­tance of mu­sic for nav­i­gat­ing life’s chal­lenges — whether per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal, fall­ing in or out of love, grow­ing up or look­ing back, an­gry or ec­static,” the jury said.

“The mu­sic here is funny and in­spir­ing, smart and mov­ing,” it added.

For­mer Oa­sis gui­tarist Gal­lagher was among the au­di­ence, with his High Fly­ing Birds pro­ject nom­i­nated for “Who Built the Moon?,” but he ul­ti­mately went home empty handed, al­though promised he would be par­ty­ing “un­til Satur­day” as he made his way into the venue.

Mu­si­cians from Ev­ery­thing Ev­ery­thing

Florence Welch from Florence + The Ma­chine

Nom­i­nee:Bri­tish singer Jorja Smith

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