Welcome to the bacchanalia of The Last Dinner Party, a feast to the ears serving a riotous variety of sounds. The British band consisting of Abigail Morris, Lizzie Mayland, Emily Roberts, Georgia Davies, and Aurora Nishevci have been the subject of much discourse even before the release. But, now that the album is here, I can confirm that the hype is real. The all-female quintet brings a freshness to the music scene that feels long overdue.
The discourse about the band being industry plants has been present since the release of their single ‘Nothing Matters‘. This was then escalated by their signing to Island Records. However, as more female guitar-based music acts, such as Wet Leg and Clairo, face baseless accusations of being industry plants, it’s evident that the criticism is not solely based on music. Despite all the criticisms, the band lived up to the hype and delivered with ‘Prelude to Ecstasy‘.
The songs are beautifully written and fearlessly performed. They don’t shy away from blasphemous lyrics, unapologetic riffs, and belting vocals. There is influence from the likes of Sparks, Kate Bush, and Florence and The Machine. You can also hear the impact of rock bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Queen, and Led Zeppelin.
The band blends genres and instrumentation seamlessly, starting the album with its title track. It is an orchestral instrumental introduction to the world we are about to enter. We are immediately hit with a guitar and synth-fueled track, ‘Burn Alive‘; igniting the fire of the album. ‘The Feminine Urge‘ provides emotional storytelling and fleshes out baroque musical elements that combine with the band’s visual aesthetic. The visceral riffs and wailing vocals on ‘My Lady of Mercy‘ reminisce of a siren song sung with power and might by lead singer Abigail Morris.
The band’s first single, ‘Nothing Matters‘, accentuates the unapologetic and raw nature of the LP, with dreamy aspects of the production and straightforward cursing lyrics. An ode to carefree lust and love, it’s a testament to superb songwriting, with a catchy chorus and hypnotic guitar solo. The baroque and gothic aesthetic from the music video sees them standing at the edge of a grave. Here, the outfits shift and change between white, black, and colorful, reminiscent of baroque art as well as gothic novels. They bring this baroque and gothic aesthetic to the stage as well, with a modern twist. Morris moves around the stage in long dresses reminiscent of a 19th-century ghost.
Other standout tracks from the album include ‘Sinner‘, ‘Caesar on a TV Screen‘, ‘Portrait of a Dead Girl‘, and ‘Beautiful Boy‘. The former is a strong, gritty rock song with playful lyrics, and ‘Caesar on a TV Screen‘ is a fun tune perfect for singing and dancing along to. Meanwhile ‘Portrait of a Dead Girl‘ and ‘Beautiful Boy‘ are hauntingly beautiful songs with an ethereal, dreamy feel to them. Written by the five members of the band and produced by James Ford, ‘Prelude To Ecstasy‘ stands out as one of the best debut albums in recent years.