This argument will no doubt be a little harder to prove, as Owen Pallet, formerly known as Final Fantasy, has already won the Polaris Prize previously. This was back in 2006 for He Poos Clouds. Interestingly, Pallett wrote on his forums:
… in 2006 I felt as if “He Poos Clouds” was one of the weakest albums of the ten and I chalked up its win to a streak of stick-it-to-the-majors perversion in the jury.
That year, Pallett was among other such talented musicians as Metric, K’Naan, Broken Social Scene and Sarah Harmer.
The simplest reason that people will discount Pallett from winning this year’s inaugural prize will be because he has already won and that another artist should have the chance. That and the fact that Pallett gave away his $20,000 prize to other bands because he was uncomfortable accepting money from corporations.
To them I say this: the Polaris Prize is always awarded to a band that innovates with their sound. Take 2008’s winner Caribou (also on the short list). Caribou’s experimental electronic sound dazzled the jury and ultimately netted him the $20,000. Or last year’s winner, Fucked Up. They managed to make a hardcore rock sound accessible to a wider audience, and lead singer Damian Abraham used the money to create an all-star cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” for charity.
Heartland is arguably the most innovative album on the Polaris short list. Many of the bands easily fit the rock category (Broken Social Scene, the Sadies) or rap category (Shad) or pop category (Tegan and Sara). But Owen Pallett’s latest album is not so easily categorized. At times it is orchestral pop, at others it is electronic, at most times a mix of a wide range of influences.
The album is also arguably a lot better than its LP predecessor He Poos Clouds because the sound is a lot more robust. A wide multitude of instruments is used beyond just Pallett’s violins. You can almost imagine the songs being conducted by a huge orchestra with a conductor’s hands furiously waving in all directions.
Additionally, Heartland is also a very intelligent concept album that may be difficult to grasp at first, encouraging multiple listens. And believe me, I have probably listened to Heartland well over ten times, even among the tons of albums I have to review. Every time I listen I seem to discover something new.
And with regards to what he would do with the money he would win, according to a CHARTattack article he would use the money to pay his taxes which he is apparently four years behind on. So no accusations of douchebaggery will be allowed this time round.
In short, the most innovative album of all ten should be awarded the $20,000 prize. And with the way the prize has been awarded over the past few years, anything can happen.