The xx win Britain’s Mercury Prize for debut album

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Electronic band The xx have scooped prestigious British music award the Mercury Prize for their debut album "xx", beating off stiff competition from a host of top acts.

Judges handed the £20,000 ($31,000) prize for best album of the past 12 months to the three-piece at a ceremony in central London late Tuesday.

The London-based group, who formed in 2005 after attending the same school and released their debut in August last year, follow in the footsteps of other acts who have won the prize, including Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys and Elbow.

The band has beaten 11 shortlisted acts — including bookmakers’ favorite, veteran British rocker Paul Weller — to scoop the award, which will mean a guaranteed boost in sales.

"We’ve had the most incredible year and it’s just felt like every day we’ve woken up to something incredible we weren’t expecting," said front-man Oliver Sim as he collected the gong.

Sim said he thought two other contenders for the award, band Wild Beasts or songstress Laura Marling, had been more likely to win as "they performed so incredibly."

Head of judges Simon Frith described their album as "a record of its time."

"It’s a very urban record; it is part of that urban soundscape when no one has any idea what is going to happen next."

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