By Tyler Abercrombie

      UK rock outfit The Last Dinner Party have come through with their highly anticipated debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy. Following the massive success of their very first single “Nothing Matters” released in April of 2023, the 5-piece became the talk of the town amongst indie music circles. The band built off of this success by continuing to release singles throughout the year, generating lots of buzz around this debut album. Along with the hype, the band has also riled up the online indie gatekeepers that seem to call any new all-female band that garners any sort of positive attention “industry plants”. But there really isn’t a need to give any of those people validation when the music is this good. The sound of the album isn’t anything particularly new, but it is quite refreshing. The album has baroque instrumentation paired with post-punk and glam rock influences, with lyrical themes of social commentary, sexuality, and gender that align nicely with those influences.

      The opening title track is a short and purely instrumental piece. Its lush orchestral instrumentation sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album. Following the opener is the song “Burn Alive”, which brings a sort of dark and despondent sound to both the instrumentation and lyrics in the verses, only to burst into an incredibly catchy synth rock chorus.

      The third track “Caesar on a TV Screen” is easily the highlight of the entire album. With so many layers to unpack, such as its several time signature changes, this song has Black Country New Road written all over, which obviously isn’t a bad thing. This song beautifully displays everything that makes this album great and what makes The Last Dinner Party such good songwriters. The many sections of this song build off of each other to create one cohesive song experience.

      The following tracks “The Feminine Urge” and “On Your Side” are a few of the lyrical standouts on the album. The former is an indie rock banger that takes its tongue-in-cheek song title and runs with it, providing a lyrical deep dive into what “the feminine urge” actually entails. The latter of the two tracks is the band’s take on a love song. The lyrics here reflect on a complex relationship between two individuals and deals with topics like forgiveness and commitment, providing a very realistic take on what relationships are actually like.

      ”Beautiful Boy” sees the band focusing on themes of gender identity and envy. The song gracefully explores themes of personal desire and the societal expectations of gender roles. The singer critiques the traditional expectations of what it means to be a woman, particularly focusing on the pressure to conform to conventional standards of attraction. The heavy lyrics on this track contrast wonderfully with the sparse instrumental that gradually builds up and explodes in the grand finale of the song.

      The interlude “Gjuha” features vocal harmonies reminiscent of Medieval Christian hymns, leading perfectly into the next song, “Sinner”. The subtle yet debaucherous lyrics are aptly paired with the continued hymnal-esque instrumental from the interlude.

      Following that, we get what is handedly the most straightforward rock song of the entire album with “My Lady of Mercy”. Continuing with the theme of desire within a religious context, this time the singer is longing for someone who is seemingly unattainable. The song starts off upbeat yet relaxed, then suddenly explodes into a rocking chorus with a distorted guitar riff that sounds like it could be in a truck commercial. On an album with mostly clean and orchestral instrumentals, this song definitely stands out among the others.

      ”Portrait of a Dead Girl” brings things back down a notch, with a head-bobbing orchestral instrumental. Once more this track has pseudo-spiritual lyrical themes, seemingly contrasting a higher power with the power dynamics of a romantic relationship. This allegorical structure is executed incredibly well and allows for the band to further explore themes such as toxicity in relationships as well.

      Following that, we get the smash hit off of the album with “Nothing Matters”. Not much can be said about this song that hasn’t already been stated. It’s just plain catchy. With a danceable indie rock instrumental, with a killer guitar solo, it’s no wonder why this song has blown up. Lyrically, this song is perfectly sequenced with the previous track. The singer has seemingly come to terms with the fact that their relationship with this man is purely physical attraction, lacking any sort of emotional depth.

      The final track “Mirror” is a deeply personal reflection of individual identity. On perhaps the most harrowing song on the album, the singer deals with themes of newfound fame and how that puts pressure on an artist. Feeling like they may just be a reflection or “mirror” of other artists before, the singer repeats the phrase “I’ll fade away” toward the end of the song, signifying that maybe the band will simply fade into obscurity if they fail to meet the expectations of the general public. While I think this song is a great choice for a closer from a lyrical standpoint, the instrumental leaves me wanting more after hearing the catchy and grand instrumentation of previous songs. Regardless, the song provides a rather bleak end to the album, but I have no doubt that the band will be back after this.

      Dealing with complex themes and showcasing incredible songwriting, The Last Dinner Party’s Prelude to Ecstasy has certainly lived up to the hype. I have no doubt that the band will continue to deliver the quality that they put forth onto this debut, undeniably making them one of the most exciting bands out right now.