The 2021 SAY Award Shortlist

The ten-album shortlist for this year's Scottish Album of the Year Award has been announced, while Frightened Rabbit's classic Midnight Organ Fight album will also be celebrated at this year's ceremony

Feature by Peter Simpson | 07 Oct 2021
  • The SAY Award Shortlist 2021

From a field of 327 eligible albums, the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award nominees have been whittled down to a final ten. This year's shortlist includes a number of Scottish indie luminaries, with Biffy Clyro, Arab Strap and the UK chart-conquering Mogwai all on the list. The Ninth Wave and The Snuts also make the list, while Stanley Odd won the public vote for their place on the shortlist. AiiTee, Joesef, Lizzie Reid and Rachel Newton round off this year's shortist.

Announcing this year's shortlist, SMIA's Robert Kilpatrick says: "2021’s Shortlist showcases the exciting, diverse and resilient nature of our music community despite 18 months of significant challenges. It firmly recognises music’s cultural impact and life-changing value, and brings to the forefront a recorded output that all of us in Scotland can – and should – feel proud of." 

Frightened Rabbit win Modern Scottish Classic Award

There are two new prizes to be given out alongside the main SAY Award this year – the Sound of Young Scotland Award, to support a Scottish act to produce their first record, and the Modern Scottish Classic Award, celebrating a great record from the Scottish musical canon.  

The first winner of the Modern Scottish Classic Award is sure to be a popular choice: Frightened Rabbit's 2008 album The Midnight Organ Fight. The band's second studio album has proven hugely influential within Scotland and beyond for its excellent indie songwriting and the sardonic, lovelorn and poetic lyrics of the band's frontman, Scott Hutchison. In a retrospective piece for The Skinny on the album's tenth anniversary, Scott described the process of writing The Midnight Organ Fight – an album inspired by a failed relationship and its aftermath – as "the equivalent of being sick on yourself then picking through the bits of carrot and sweetcorn to find interesting shapes and tiny colourful items that you didn’t know could exist in the bile and lining of a stomach".

After Scott's death in 2018, the entire music community came together to grieve his passing and remember his brilliant work, and the Tiny Changes charity set up in Scott's memory continues his legacy by providing mental health support to children and young people. It's genuinely hard to think of a recent Scottish album more fitting for this kind of honour, and we'll be raising a glass to Scott on awards night.

The SAY Award ceremony: date, ticket details

This year's SAY Awards will be handed out at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 October, with the event open to the public for the first time. There'll be live performances and a celebration of this year's nominees, as well as the awarding of the 2021 prizes. Tickets are on sale now.

The winner of The SAY Award will collect a £20,000 top prize, while all nine runners-up will be awarded £1,000 and their own bespoke award. Read the full SAY Award shortlist below...

The SAY Award shortlist in full

AiiTee – Love Don’t Fall
Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings
Joesef – Does It Make You Feel Good?
Lizzie Reid – Cubicle
Mogwai – As the Love Continues
Rachel Newton – To the Awe
Stanley Odd – STAY ODD
The Ninth Wave – Happy Days!
The Snuts – W.L.