Mercury Prize 2014!

The albums in contention for the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize, given to the best British or Irish record of the last 12 months, have been announced.

The acts making the shortlist include Blur’s Damon Albarn, poet and rapper Kate Tempest, alt-R&B singer FKA Twigs and electro-funk duo Jungle.

Bombay Bicycle Club, Anna Calvi, GoGo Penguin, Polar Bear and Royal Blood are also up for the £20,000 prize.

Nick Mulvey, East India Youth and Young Fathers complete the 12-strong list.

James Blake was the winner of last year’s award, while other recent winners have included Alt-J, PJ Harvey, The xx and Speech Debelle.

“It’s really wonderful to be nominated for an award that is about music,” said FKA Twigs, considered by one bookmaker to be joint favourite to win the prize on 29 October.

The prize is judged by a panel of 12 critics, DJs, musicians and other industry figures who often use the shortlist to champion left-field choices as well as more obvious contenders.

“One of the great things about the Mercury is there are always people you’ve not heard of,” said Nick Blacka, bassist with Manchester-based jazz trio GoGo Penguin, following Wednesday’s announcement.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has Tempest and FKA Twigs as joint favourites to win the prize, followed by Jungle and chart-topping Brighton rock duo Royal Blood.

William Hill, meanwhile, places Albarn and Royal Blood as joint favourites.

Tempest, though, refused to contemplate her chances of victory. “If you allow yourself to have those thoughts, you’ll just give yourself nightmares,” she told the BBC News website.

“I don’t see it as a competition,” she continued. “It’s more like a rising of comrades.”

“It doesn’t feel competitive,” agreed FKA Twigs, aka 26-year-old Tahliah Bennett. “It feels like a celebration of people who care about what they do.

“For me, the achievement was getting out my debut album. Everything else is something I try to take in my stride.”

Tempest, from Brockley in south London, is also a playwright and spoken word performer who won the prestigious Ted Hughes Award for poetry last year.

The 27-year-old was pictured on Twitter celebrating a “joyous moment” with her band following the announcement.