Last night the hype around the Barclaycard Mercury Awards finally came to a head at London’s Grosvenor House where Jools Holland announced The xx as winners of Album Of The Year with their self-titled debut. While not as unexpected a result as last year, when the prize went to female hip-hop artist Speech Debelle, The xx’s own Oliver Sim still expressed surprise when accepting the award: "I don't know what we were expecting but we weren't expecting this. Thank you so much. We've had the most incredible year and it has just felt like every day we've just woken up to something incredible we just weren't expecting. It has felt like a haze and being here is like a moment of clarity in all that's happening." Chair of Judges Simon Frith commented, “The xx have a unique sense of time and space - urban and enigmatic. The result is a wonderfully atmospheric album - sparse, urgent, hypnotic and powerful.” The shortlist of 12 Albums of the Year, this year including Laura Marling, Villagers, Dizzee Rascal, Foals, Biffy Clyro and Paul Weller, is chosen by an independent judging panel of musicians, producers, presenters and music journalists. The Prize, intended to recognise and celebrate music in the UK, has always been the centre of much debate, the nominees falling under as much scrutiny as those who eventually receive the accolade. Albums released between July 2009 and July 2010 were eligible for this year’s Prize. www.myspace.com/thexx www.mercuryprize.com