The Prelude to Ecstasy: A Review of The Last Dinner Party – The Highly Anticipated Band of the Year Delivers Impressively.

The Prelude to Ecstasy: A Review of The Last Dinner Party – The Highly Anticipated Band of the Year Delivers Impressively.


It’s rare for a band to choose an orchestral overture as the opening track on their debut album. However, that’s exactly how the Last Dinner Party’s debut begins: with woodwind, brass, and strings turned up to the max, embellished with crashing cymbals and shimmering harp. It’s a grandiose introduction, one that even the director of a 1950s Hollywood blockbuster would have suggested toning down. It’s also a bold move, bordering on provocative, but it’s not surprising considering the confidence exuding from the members of Last Dinner Party. The band has had a remarkable year in 2024, receiving both the BBC Sound of… award and the Brits’ Rising Star award. In the past 12 months, they have experienced an unstoppable ascent to fame. They sold out shows before even releasing nine minutes of music, received praises from notable figures like Florence Welch and Garth Crooks (the latter even interrupting an episode of Football Focus to describe them as “fine young women making really exciting pop music”), and endured accusations of being an “industry plant.” These accusations are almost expected in the 21st century, as much a part of an artist’s rapid rise as the glowing coverage and claims that this band will change your life once were in the weekly music press.

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The Last Dinner Party: Prelude to Ecstasy album art.View image in fullscreen

However, one can understand why the Last Dinner Party may raise eyebrows. They appeared to have emerged fully developed, but this was simply due to intense practicing during the Covid-19 hiatus from live performances. They have a knack for creating unique dress codes for their shows – such as Victorian, Brothers Grimm, and Velvet Goldmine – which elevates their concerts and fosters a sense of real-life community. Their first single, Nothing Matters, featured a ridiculously catchy chorus that could easily be imagined as a sing-along for a large festival crowd. Prelude to Ecstasy is well-crafted, with string arrangements that are not as melodramatic as the introduction may suggest, a polished finish, and some impressive contributions from James Ford. The drawn-out, shoegaze-inspired finale of On Your Side is just one example of their talent. However, their sound is not much different from their third live performance video posted on YouTube, which quickly caught the attention of major labels and management companies.

The sound is quite impressive. The dress code for the theme brings to mind the mid-70s band Roxy Music, who didn’t explicitly tell their audience how to dress, but it was evident through the fans who imitated Bryan Ferry’s style every week. The most fitting comparison in terms of music would be Sparks, who were contemporaries of Roxy during their glam era. Abigail Morris’s vocals have a hint of Russell Mael’s rococo flair, and the Last Dinner Party shows a similar penchant for drama by changing tempos and mixing musical styles in the middle of songs. For example, “Our Lady of Mercy” transitions from sophisticated 80s pop to a strong hard-rock sound, while “Sinner” switches from staccato piano to a post-punk style reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand. The band displays a strong pop sensibility and surprisingly, there are quite a few “proper guitar solos”, as praised by Justin Hawkins of The Darkness. Lead guitarist Emily Roberts impresses with her soaring and stadium-worthy axe skills.

The vocals in this album are reminiscent of opera singers, with sudden changes in mood and tempo. There are also impressive guitar solos and clever lyrics that turn relationship problems into intense crime drama scenes. However, there are moments when it can feel overwhelming, like when the song “Mirror” starts with timpani drums after just a few seconds. “Beautiful Boy” also borders on musical theater, which may not be to everyone’s taste. Thankfully, these moments are rare because the album is filled with well-crafted songs. The transitions between rhythms and styles are seamless, never feeling disjointed or aimless. The band’s practice and hard work have paid off, resulting in catchy melodies and memorable choruses throughout the album, such as “Nothing Matters”, “Feminine Urge”, “Burn Alive”, and even “Mirror”, despite its excessive use of percussion.

Naturally, they encounter the issue that all established bands face: what happens next when you already have your sound, image, and songs perfectly crafted? However, Prelude to Ecstasy is a joy to listen to, with plenty of innovative concepts that hint at more to come in their future work. The Last Dinner Party’s self-assuredness may be attributed not only to the buzz they have generated, but also to their own awareness of their talent.

Alexis listened this week.

Fabiana Palladino’s song “Stay With Me Through the Night”

This music falls somewhere in the middle of smooth soul and the singer-songwriter style of Natalie Prass, possessing a subtle funkiness and confident demeanor.