Alt-J has just been announced as the winner of the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave. The four-piece group of off-beat psych rockers bested 11 other shortlisted nominees, including Jessie Ware, Michael Kiwanuka, Django Django and Ben Howard.
The Mercury Prize is awarded annually to honor the year’s best album by a U.K. artist. Winners are selected based solely on the artistic merit of the album’s music. Popularity, reputation or record sales are not taken into consideration. The winning artist receives a prize of 20,000 pounds ($32,000), as well as a sizable career boost due to the prestige associated with the award.
Previous Mercury Prize winners of note include The xx (2010), Arctic Monkeys (2006) and Franz Ferdinand (2004). PJ Harvey won last year’s award for her album Let England Shake. Harvey also won the award in 2001 for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.