London alternative act the XX has been installed as frontrunners for the Barclarycard Mercury Prize, and the band's label says it will capitalize on the nomination with marketing activity.

Since its release in August 2009, the critically acclaimed "XX" (Young Turks/XL Recordings) has sold 125,000 copies in the U.K. according to the Official Charts Co.

In the U.K. mid-week album chart, it moved up 44-32 based on three day's sales to the end of Tuesday (July 20). The nominations for the 12 records up for the best U.K. or Irish album of the year to July 12 were only unveiled at 11.30am on July 20. So while pre-nominations buzz helped the album in the mid-week chart, it could do even better in the second half of the sales week and perhaps even enter the top 30 for the first time.

"The XX made a stunning debut record that quietly won a lot of fans through word of mouth, and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year," says Matthew Thornhill, XL director of A&R.

"Having steadily taken the album to half a million sales worldwide, the Mercury nomination opens the door to a new round of promotion and marketing. We feel that there are still a lot of potential xx fans out there who haven't yet heard of the band. We recently took 'Islands' to radio and have had an incredible response. This coupled with our most intense period of TV and outdoor marketing should help drive album sales between now and the night of the awards."

The winner will be announced at the televised ceremony on BBC Two on Sept. 7. All the nominated acts are set to perform on the night.

"I'm just going to go with it," says the XX's singer/guitarist Romy Madley Croft of the band being made 4/1 favorite with bookmakers along with Dizzee Rascal.

'Big Honor'

Despite their global success, she acknowledged that the U.K. award is still important.

"It's massive," she says. "[The Mercury is] something I've grown up with and it feels very special, and you know it definitely still feels like a big honor to be a part of it."

While the XX is tipped by many to win, there are plenty of interesting stories among the nominees. I Am Kloot has been recognized for its fifth studio album "Sky At Night," described as a "bittersweet and emotional record" by the judges.

While the Manchester indie band has never made a commercial breakthrough, there is a strong buzz about the album as well as lots of goodwill from fans in the media and music industry. Their friends Guy Garvey and Craig Potter of Elbow - whose "The Seldom Seen Kid" (Fiction/Universal) won the Mercury in 2008 - produced the album.

"Just by being nominated, I think there's an awful lot of people who will hear our music," says Kloot frontman John Bramwell. "I think there's an awful lot of people out there who have never even heard our name, let alone our music."

The album is released on indie label Shepherd Moon but will benefit from a services and distribution deal with EMI. The band has also assembled a strong team behind the release, including Arctic Monkeys manager Ian McAndrew, managing director of Wildlife; Barbara Charone at MBC PR; and Big Brother Records GM Emma Greengrass who handles marketing.

Parlophone VP of promotion and press Kevin McCabe said he chose to work on the record for TV and radio promotion after he heard it.

"You hear this record, you fall in love with," he says. McCabe adds that they were hopeful of a nomination as a key part of the campaign for the record, which was released July 5 a week before cut-off for eligibility for this year's prize.

Dr Who In The Next Video

The next single "Proof" will go to radio in the next few weeks, and the video features Christopher Eccleston, a friend of the band who was previously Dr Who in the BBC series.

"You do get a feeling from people that there's a genuine groundswell, a genuine buzz about the record," says McCabe.

"In a way it's a cliché but everyone's a winner," he adds of the nominations. "But we'd love to win it."

Corinne Bailey Rae's sophomore EMI set "The Sea" is also nominated.

"I think it helps to shine a light on the work that you've done, I think that's really important," she says of the nomination. "You go into a store and there will be a collection of albums... for this award. I think it's a great prize for looking at the records that have come out and helping to bring more attention to albums that you might not be familiar."

U.K. rapper Speech Debelle won last year for "Speech Therapy" (Big Dada) but failed to perform strongly at retail, unlike previous winners.

For more on the Barclaycard Mercury Prize see the new edition of Billboard.

Based on Official Charts Co sales data, here are the total sales for all previous Mercury winners since it launched in 1992.

2009 "Speech Therapy" Speech Debelle - 13,000
2008 "The Seldom Seen Kid" Elbow - 775,000
2007 "Myths of the Near Future" Klaxons - 335,000
2006 "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" Arctic Monkeys - 1.35 million
2005 "I Am a Bird Now" Antony and the Jonsons - 215,000
2004 "Franz Ferdinand" Franz Ferdinand - 1.27 million
2003 "Boy In Da Corner" Dizzee Rascal - 250,000
2002 "A Little Deeper" Ms Dynamite - 490,000
2001 "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" P J Harvey - 265,000
2000 "The Hour of Bewilderbeast" Badly Drawn Boy - 450,000
1999 "OK" Talvin Singh - 90,000
1998 "Bring it On" Gomez - 480,000
1997 "New Forms" Roni Size/Reprazent - 325,000
1996 "Different Class" Pulp - 1.24 million
1995 "Dummy" Portishead - 815,000
1994 "Elegant Slumming" M People - 835,000
1993 "Suede" Suede - 340,000
1992 "Screamadelica" Primal Scream - 650,000