Image: Chuff Media

The Last Dinner Party’s ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’ review: the most exciting debut album in years

When The Last Dinner Party released their debut single, ‘Nothing Matters’ in April 2023, people immediately knew they were witnessing the birth of the next great band. A combination of indie rock, and loud, powerful instrumentals, all mixed with a dash of the theatrics of musical theatre, ‘Nothing Matters’ filled a gap in the musical landscape. It was big, lavish, poetic, self-indulgent, sensual, and incredibly, unmistakeably catchy.

The song was so good, in fact, that users flocked to X to accuse them of being “industry plants” or “nepo babies” planted by some big label or other. After all, how could a band who had only released one single be causing such furore online? Surely some famous parent had to be behind it; there was no way they could just be that good. Right? But The Last Dinner Party weren’t industry plants nor were they nepo babies. And yes, they were just that good. And ‘Nothing Matters’ was a sign that great things were to come.

The word of these shows, much like word about the band, spread like wildfire

The following singles showed similar promise: ‘Sinner’ was a euphoric, lavish display of hedonism boasting resounding guitar chords, soaring vocals, and furious drumming. The vibrant ‘My Lady of Mercy’ combined stadium rock guitars with lyrics comparing having a crush to crucifixion. Then, the release of ‘On Your Side’ proved that the band were more than a one-trick pony, with breathy, intimate vocals making the base for a confessional, heartbreaking ballad.

Now, nine months after the release of ‘Nothing Matters’ and after a slow, steady drip of singles, the band has released their debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy. Prelude is the synergetic combination of their previous singles, two introduction and transition tracks, and a handful of unreleased tracks the band had debuted at live shows. The word of these shows, much like word about the band, spread like wildfire. In these nine months, The Last Dinner Party went from playing the 470-capacity Camden Assembly in London to just having announced a UK tour culminating in the nearly 3500-capacity Eventim Apollo theatre.

There are no dull moments in Prelude to Ecstasy

However, the genius of The Last Dinner Party goes beyond a handful of good singles, for every track on Prelude is just as extravagant and thrilling as the last. ‘Burn Alive’ is a particular standout. Reverb-filled verses and pre-choruses pave the way for explosive choruses, as lead singer Abigail Morris’ vocals crash into each other like dominos. Finally, the song explodes into a raucous parade of drums and guitar which fades into a desperate plea of “burn, burn me alive” – no doubt a reference to the martyr Joan of Arc.

‘Caesar on a TV Screen’ sees the band at their most egotistical: “And just for a second I could be one of the greats,” Morris sings, her voice deep, dripping with conviction and determination, all while contrasting with lyrics about Red Scare, burning cities, and Leningrad. This is precisely where the band’s genius lies: it is in the intersection of images of gore, and feminine power mixed with plenty of references to literature, mythology, religion, and history.

One of the tracks where this is most evident is ‘Feminine Urge’, a swooping, melodramatic, and often visceral track. “I am a dark red liver stretched out on a rock,” Morris sings. It’s grotesque, but in combination with her vocal prowess and delicate, reverberating falsettos, the juxtaposition works.

There are no dull moments in Prelude to Ecstasy. Even the album’s introduction track (‘Prelude’) and its interlude (‘Gjuha’) make the album shine. ‘Prelude’ does well to set up the orchestral elements in the rest of the album, while ‘Gjuha’ is a haunting, hymn-like track sung in Albanian by the band’s keyboardist, Aurora Nishevci.

‘Mirror’, the closing track, is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. Pulsating string arrangements set the stage for soaring falsetto vocals just before the track mellows out into a wallowing electric guitar solo. It then transitions into a tear-jerking piano-and-string epilogue, closing the album in a similar way to how it started. The curtain closes, the show is over and thus ends Prelude to Ecstasy. But fear not: with the hype that has surrounded the band during their meteoric rise to fame, their spectacular live performances, and now armed with an impeccable debut album, The Last Dinner Party is going to be the name on everyone’s lips for years to come.


Recommended Listening:Nothing Matters’

Comments (1)

  • This is the best review I’ve seen so far. It really understands the specialness of the music, the sheer ambition of the project and the wonders yet to come. It’s as if The Beatles had debuted with Sergeant Pepper. Yes, it really IS that good.

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