The 10 albums shorlisted for the 2009 Guardian First Album award

The 10 albums that make up the shortlist for the 2009 Guardian First Album award

Here they are, then, the 10 albums that make up the shortlist for the 2009 Guardian First Album award. These, the Guardian's music writers felt, were the 10 best debuts released by UK acts in the past year (Electrik Red sneak through on what is known as the Antony Hegarty Loophole: they have a British member). Narrowly missing the final cut were debuts from the Big Pink, Fanfarlo, Alice Russell, Emmy the Great. Frankmusik and the Phantom Band. Sadly, Susan Boyle received not one vote. The winner will be decided by a jury featuring Alexis Petridis, Laura Barton, Rosie Swash, Dave Simpson and – representing last year's winners, the Courteeners – Liam Fray, who willl be meeting in a top-secret bunker later this month. We'll be unveiling 2009's winner in February.

Electrik Red
How to Be a Lady: Volume 1

What the Guardian said: "How to Be a Lady: Volume 1 is a fully formed and magnificently executed vision – of love, of sex – set to beats that thrill and seduce in equal measure, and sung with an unabashed confidence.

Electrik Red's parentage is easy to trace, but they build on and push forward the traits they have inherited from previous generations of black female pop … in such a way that their concerns seem totally fresh."
Alex Macpherson

Florence and the Machine

We said: "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) has so many chants and tinkling harps it's surprising they found room for the huge, impassioned chorus. Dog Days Are Over, Between Two Lungs, Cosmic Love and I'm Not Calling You a Liar are equally wondrous. Welch has created a sonic labyrinth of xylophones, percussion, Gregorian chants and werewolves. It can sound affected, occasionally crass, but there's enough adventure to make this worth backing for the Mercury."
Dave Simpson

Golden Silvers
True Romance

We said: "Golden Silvers's superb single True Romance – the essence of Wham's Club Tropicana and Haircut 100's Favourite Shirts distilled into four funky LCD Soundsystem minutes – is not a one-off. This eclectic debut continues the mood of excited rediscovery, rifling through doo-wop, Britpop, jerky dance-pop and Roxy/Bowie glam exuberance with similar success … Indeed, funk opus Shakes's line 'it feels like joy and it feels like pain' is a microcosm of True Romance's many charms."
Dave Simpson

The Invisible
The Invisible

We said: "The Invisible make connections between types of music previously considered irreconcilable – we can hear elements of space-prog in some of their freakier moments, and of Brit-funk on their forthcoming single … [They] use a blend of electronic and organic instrumentation to veer from polyrhythmic krautrock to concise, melodic funk-pop – but the Invisible adapt to everything they tackle with aplomb."
Paul Lester

La Roux
La Roux

We said: "What's surprising is how alien it sounds, even if you remember this sort of thing first time around: the sparse dynamics and stabbing synthesisers of Quicksand offer a reminder that not every aspect of the 80s has been mined to exhaustion in recent years. Its oddness is compounded by Jackson's voice … There's something rather moving about hearing her brittle vocals pitched against a gospel choir on the album's heartbroken big ballad, Cover My Eyes."
Alexis Petridis

Little Boots

We said: "Hands … is, by anybody's standards, an enormously self-assured debut. The swagger of single New in Town can be heard all over the album. It's in the charging commerciality of almost every chorus, and in the way Hesketh bends not merely a multitude of currently hip underground styles to her radio-friendly will … but a couple of deeply unfashionable genres as well."
Alexis Petridis

Micachu and the Shapes

We said: "With an unquenchable thirst for sounds and a gift for layering them, Micachu abandons structure in favour of seeing where her lithe, adventurous songs take her. Synths slurp next to stripped-down and fuzzed-up guitars; bleeps, beats and distortion litter pretty melodies. There's a flash of vaudeville on Vulture and a hint of vulnerability on Floor, while Sweetheart sounds like a new anthem for doomed youth."
Betty Clarke

Mumford & Sons
Sigh No More

We said: "Mumford & Sons … have the air of lives having been lived, their music suffused with world-weary experience, such that you'd assume they'd been going for years. They don't sound tentative, or at least they only do when their songs require a sense of faltering fragility; they sound fully formed, as though they were destined to make this music."
Paul Lester

Speech Debelle
Speech Therapy

We said: "There's something intriguing about Speech Debelle, with a voice both husky and sweet, and a back story that's emotive if unclear … What's more, the music on her debut, craftily produced in the main by Wayne Lotek, is acoustic, jazz-inspired and, on songs like Spinning, quite beautiful; not something that can be said too often about debut UK hip-hop albums."
Paul Macinnes

The xx

We said: "The London band understand the importance of space. Every big Glasvegas guitar riff, Joy Division bassline or snappy electronic handclap is there because it needs to be. Childhood friends Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sims's spoken vocals have a conversational style that makes for a close-knit, almost disturbingly intimate listen that's somehow simultaneously joyful and melancholy."
Dave Simpson


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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