> The Last Dinner Party – Prelude to Ecstasy (album review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

The Last Dinner Party – Prelude to Ecstasy (album review)

It’s rare for a band to cause as much of a stir before the release of their first single as The Last Dinner Party had by early 2023. After signing to Island Records, the London five-piece’s debut release ‘Nothing Matters’ blew up in the alternative music world, but it was through their vital live performances that the group laid the groundwork for the hype that would anticipate their debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy

In a music ecosystem that favours internet virality, The Last Dinner Party’s old-fashioned emphasis on live gigs is mirrored in the pre-eminence of guitar solos and grandiose performances through their music.

Comprising vocalist Abigail Morris, bassist Georgia Davies, guitarists Emily Roberts and Lizzie Mayland, and keyboardist Aurora Nishevci, the band have, over the course of a few songs, cultivated a distinct brand of richly indulgent, lively and hook-laden indie pop-rock.

Singles like ‘Sinner’ and ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’ owe their volatility to the constant friction between the austere and the exuberant, aptly illustrated in the band’s signature outfits and cover images which rip up gothic Victoriana with punkish abandon. 

Employing towering, fiery guitars and haunting falsetto vocals to evoke religious, ceremonial imagery, the songs then burst into joyous, cathartic choruses. Along with the gritty, vibrant energy of Paramore and the theatricality of David Bowie, the band recall the deft melodicism of ABBA, running nimbly up and down scales, and studding their infectious melodies with ornate baroque motifs. 

Despite the singles having set the tone for Prelude to Ecstasy, there’s still room for some surprises: the sugary crunch of ‘The Feminine Urge’, layering girl-group harmonies and wiry guitar; the cool, glassy stillness of ‘Beautiful Boy’; the magnificent, transcendental choral piece ‘Gjuha’ and the incandescent vocals on the outro of ‘Portrait of a Dead Girl’.

Skulking slow-burner ‘Mirror’ closes out this monumental record with an uneasy feeling of incompleteness, hinting that the Last Dinner Party are not leaving the table any time soon. 

Prelude to Ecstasy is out now on Island Records

Image Credit: Cal McIntyre

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