LONDON - The rock band Klaxons beat bookies' favourite Bat for Lashes and the once hotly tipped Amy Winehouse to the Mercury prize with their "forward-thinking" debut album Myths of the Near Future.
The south London band won the 20,000-pound ($58,400) prize after taking the judges on an "ecstatic musical adventure", the award's panel said.
Amy Winehouse wowed the crowd at the ceremony with her first appearance for several weeks.
She sang Love is a Losing Game from her nominated album Back to Black, following reports of her health problems.
But Klaxons' singer Jamie Reynolds said they deserved to beat Winehouse for the prize because she made a "retro record and we've made the most forward-thinking record".
The band, which has been together for two years, reached number two with their album when it was released earlier this year.
NME Editor Conor McNicholas, who was on the judging panel, was reported by the media as saying "one of the things Klaxons have tried to do is produce something that feels like it came from the future".
"It's an album that could only ever have been made in Britain, could only ever have been made at this moment in time and it's a multi-layered album," he said.
Other nominations for the prize had been last year's winner Arctic Monkeys for their follow-up Favourite Worst Nightmare, rapper Dizzee Rascal, who won the award in 2003, and singer-songwriter Natasha Khan, who is known as Bat for Lashes.