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The Last Dinner Party’s first album shatters expectations

The+Last+Dinner+Party+released+their+first+album%2C+Prelude+to+Ecstasy%2C+Feb.+2+featuring+some+new+indie-rock+sounds.
Courtesy of Universal Music
The Last Dinner Party released their first album, “Prelude to Ecstasy,” Feb. 2 featuring some new indie-rock sounds.

Filled to the brim with provocative imagery, lyrical romanticism and no small amount of gothic theatrics, The Last Dinner Party’s debut album, “Prelude to Ecstasy,” serves as a testament to the group’s well-deserved hype and shatters every expectation.

The UK-based band, which includes members Abigail Morris (vocals), Lizzie Mayland (vocals/guitar), Emily Roberts (guitar), Georgia Davies (bass) and Aurora Nishevci (keys), officially formed in 2021 and began performing live in November of that same year. In the midst of small, yet ever-growing performances in independent London venues, the group caught the eye of Q Prime, the management firm that handles the likes of powerhouse groups Metallica and Muse. 

Through opening for The Rolling Stones and Hozier, winning BBC’s Sound of 2024 award and the Brit Awards’ Rising Star Award and signing with Island Records, the band garnered a slew of attention and hype. But does their debut album live up to the expectations set by their organic success?

Predictably, yes. “Prelude to Ecstasy,” released Feb. 2, is a combination of pre-released gems, such as the band’s first single, “Nothing Matters,” and new tracks that both meet and exceed the bar the earlier hits set.

It’s the lyricism and theatrics, though, that truly build the foundation of the album. A number of tracks contain lines that display a poetically violent translation of love, including standout track “The Feminine Urge,” which boasts a heavy-hitting chorus: “I am a dark red liver stretched out on the rocks / All the poison, I convert it and I turn it to love.” The delivery is almost haunting, with Morris’ Kate Bush-esque vocals floating over the classic baroque-pop sound the album adopts throughout each track. But where “The Feminine Urge” carries these themes atop an upbeat, art-pop instrumental, “On Your Side” carries them in the shape of an evocative piano ballad, with Nishevci’s skill on full display as Morris sings, “Wish I could do without this blood on my face / Where your teeth sunk in, bite me again.”

Many of the album’s tracks can be traced back to Morris’ diary, such as the aforementioned “Nothing Matters,” which is unapologetically feminist in its delivery, stating, “And you can hold me, like he held her / And I will f— you, like nothing matters.” The track, written about Morris’ ex-boyfriend, is a masterclass in maximalism, featuring a show-stopping chorus to match the passionate, Bowie-like theatrics that carried the band to fame when they first released it as a single back in April 2023. These achievements are due in no small part to Morris’ incredible songwriting ability and flair for the dramatic.

Morris isn’t the only talented member of the group, of course. Each member gets their own moment to shine throughout the album, all the way from the soaring guitar solos of Roberts and Mayland that are scattered throughout each song, to another standout track, “Gjuha,” delivered completely in Albanian by Nishevci, who sings about the disconnect between herself and the native language she never got the chance to learn.

The group cites David Bowie as a prime influence on both their look and sound, which is evident in the theatrics that are on full display throughout the entire album, yet especially prevalent in the opening track, “Prelude to Ecstasy.” The orchestral overture possesses a rich, grandiose sound that serves as an introduction for the instrumental themes present throughout the following 11 tracks.

These theatrics can be spotted again in “Beautiful Boy,” boasting a collection of soaring harmonies and smooth, stylistic transitions to accompany the aching lyrics Morris uses to convey the jealousy she feels toward men with lines such as “And what I’m feeling isn’t lust, it’s envy / He has the Earth, he makes love to her to spite me” and “The power in my hips is useless in the dark / What good are red lips when you’re faced with something sharp?”

Multiple tracks on the album also demonstrate the influence of Morris’ struggle with her religious upbringing, notably “My Lady of Mercy” and “Sinner,” both of which capture the clash between desire and faith that comes with realizing one’s own queerness while being raised Catholic. “Lady of Mercy” commands, “Picture me in bed / Under your crucifix,” whereas “Sinner” states, rather bluntly, “I wish I knew you / Before it felt like a sin.” Rather than completely separating these ideas of queerness and Catholicism, both tracks make the bold move to explore such themes by turning towards religious imagery and allusions, a choice that perfectly demonstrates the unabashed approach to songwriting that the group displays throughout the album.

Overall, “Prelude to Ecstasy” has done more than surpass expectations — it has solidified “The Last Dinner Party’s” status as the rising star of not only the indie-rock world, but the musical world as a whole. With an album title that labels itself as an introduction of what’s to come, it’s hard not to anticipate what literary triumph the band will release next.

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