London indie band Wolf Alice defied the bookies’ predictions and beat a number of big-name artists to win the 2018 Mercury Prize last night, for their second album Visions of a Life.

The quartet genuinely did seem lost for words as they accepted the trophy and £25,000 prize, having edged out 11 other artists on Thursday night at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, including established names like Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and the hotly-tipped favourite Nadine Shah.

“It means so much to pick this up with my three best friends,” Wolf Alice’s frontwoman Ellie Rowsell said, looking shocked at the group’s triumph, before her bandmate Theo Ellis stepped in.

Wolf AliceWolf Alice's frontwoman Ellie Rowsell

"The first label meeting we ever had, we walked into a room, and the geezer said, 'You don't look like a band at all. What are you? What are you supposed to be? All your songs sound different. You don't look like each other.' We never really figured it out, but here we are,” Ellis said.

Wolf Alice then reprised that evening’s performance of ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, before Rowsell delivered a more composed analysis of their victory backstage, talking to the BBC.

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“You get given almost 300 albums - so I know the intensity and the frustration of making that decision,” she said, reflecting on her time in 2016 as one of the Mercury Prize judging panel, adding: “Now I know what overwhelmed feels like.”

Wolf Alice had been nominated for their debut album My Love Is Cool back in 2015, but on that occasion lost out to Benjamin Clementine.

The 12-strong list of nominees for the 2018 Mercury Prize received a great deal of criticism when it was revealed two months ago. Only three debuts were nominated, and there were no folk or dance entries, and beyond the token jazz nomination, no avant-garde or classical concessions, leading to many describing it as incredibly conservative.

More: All the Mercury Prize winning albums – From Worst To Best