'Prelude to Ecstasy' by The Last Dinner Party: A Review

07/03/2024

Grace Clift reviews the 2024 release of the indie-rock band and suggests top songs to look out for

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Image by Michael Lamertz

By Grace Clift

Based in London, indie rock band The Last Dinner Party shot to fame before releasing a single song, and reached over 33 million streams on their first ever single. They’ve won the BRITs Rising Star Award and the BBC Sound of the Year poll, and their debut album was just released on 2 February 2024. Characterised by cinematic instrumental use, biblical allusions and a rockstar energy, their new album Prelude to Ecstasy delivers beyond all expectations previously set for the band.

The album begins with an atmospheric start in the titular song ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’, an instrumental piece that sets a grand and striking tone for the rest of the album. This sense of grandeur continues in the punchy ‘Burn Alive’, where listeners can feel the physical beat of the bass in their chest, courtesy of Georgia Davies and Sam Becker. The incredible instrumental work of the band is consuming enough, but if you concentrate on the lyrics, they delicately detail nuanced and vulnerable experiences: ‘I am not the girl I set out to be / Let me make my grief a commodity’.

Lead vocalist Abigail Morris can only be described as exceptional – her voice is piercing and impassioned, perhaps most notably in ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’. Morris has a clear understanding of how to balance theatre and rock to expel pure emotion. There is a palpable hubris in the lines ‘No one can tell me to stop, I’ll have everything I want’ and ‘I felt like an emperor with a city to burn’, a desperation to be revered. It is a mix of artfully honest lyrics and fervent instrumentalisation that makes it clear that The Last Dinner Party is a band to watch out for.

Highlights on the album are ‘The Feminine Urge’, a catchy, dramatic piece, singles ‘Sinner’ and ‘Nothing Matters’, the latter of which reached over 42 million streams in less than a year. ‘On Your Side’ is one of the rare slower songs in the album, and The Last Dinner Party demonstrates that they can execute a slow song just as successfully as a rock piece. The instrumentals are all-consuming, mirroring the meaning of the song, about a toxic relationship. The slow drums lend it a sense of nostalgia and dread that appears throughout the album, and show the refreshing diversity of the band’s skills at playing with genre.

The album closes on ‘Mirror’, which has the same dramatic, silky tone as the soundtracks to shows like Killing Eve and Yellowjackets. Strings float in and out as Morris sings ‘I’m on the hunt for something / I want my pound of flesh’. From ominous lyrics to a sense of grandeur, The Last Dinner Party is unmatched in creating a bold, distinctive atmosphere that stays consistent across all of their music, despite each song’s variety.

The Last Dinner Party is a band you don’t want to miss if you love alternative pop that’s unapologetic in its distinctive style. Top songs are ‘On Your Side’, ‘The Feminine Urge’ and the ever-popular ‘Nothing Matters’, but the passion and precision of each band member is clear in every song across the album. It’s early in the year, but this is a strong contender to be the pop album of the year.