Mercury nominees 2014: Royal Blood

Creators of the fastest-selling rock album in years, can Royal Blood’s primitive, rifftastic rock’n’roll win over the Mercury judges?

Who? Brighton’s Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher follow Black Keys, Deap Vally, the Pack AD and the White Stripes as a rock group who require but two members to construct their racket. Much loved of Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders (he was seen wearing a Royal Blood T-shirt onstage at Glastonbury, plus they share the same management), they are one of the most commercially successful artists on the list this year: while Mojo hailed them “as close to a reincarnation of the White Stripes’ primitive rock’n’roll values as we’ve heard in ages” – their blokeish mugs adorned the cover of the NME, and their sets at Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds were some of the most celebrated of the summer, helped along by some big BBC coverage.

The album: Royal Blood

Previous releases to date: Out of the Black EP – 2014

What we said: Happily, their self-titled debut album sounds just like it should – a muscular expansion on the sound of their four preceding singles and EP. They’re not a patch on their illustrious predecessors yet – hell, they’re not a patch on Deap Vally – but debt is a funny thing in rock. A great deal of it can be written off if the end result is a pleasure.”

What they said: “It’s all off-the-cuff, spontaneous and of the moment. There’s never a moment where we’re at our desk with a pen. It’s very primitive and we keep playing together until we find something. It’s kind of like throwing jokes at each other until the other person laughs.”

Notable Mercury-friendly accolades: The band celebrated a double victory with their debut – not only claiming the No 1 album spot but also becoming the fastest-selling rock debut in three years. Head of music at Radio 1 and 1Xtra, George Ergatoudis, credited the band as one of the key artists instigating a revival in mainstream rock music.

Likelihood to win: A lot of emphasis has been paid to Royal Blood’s live show – but their capability as songwriters – and the album itself – wasn’t regarded by most critics as a seminal or particularly original. At present, they’re at 5/1.

Stream the album:


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