The Last Dinner Party: Prelude to Ecstasy (Island) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, April 17th, 2024  

The Last Dinner Party

Prelude to Ecstasy

Island

Feb 02, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Here’s the thing: I’m not hugely interested in details regarding the excellent management team who spotted the potential that was apparent when London-based band The Last Dinner Party (formerly The Dinner Party) began performing in venues such as The Moth Club and London’s Windmill a few years ago. Nothing matters other than, are they any good at the actual music? Ultimately, it’s the sonic connection with the listener that makes or breaks a band. While conversations about class and industry access are vital, charging in with accusations of privilege or nepotism without any evidence and then completely refusing to evaluate the music seems reductive and dismissive, and, let’s be honest, it makes you look like a bit of a knob-head. Of course, the whiff of misogyny is never far away, as the tiresome “industry plant” narrative has undeniably been squarely aimed at young women in recent years.

It’s safe to say that whoever caught the band’s early shows knew there was something special about the band and in lead singer Abigail Morris they possess a frontwoman who positively oozes charisma and star quality. The band proved the buzz was built on substance when their barnstorming debut single “Nothing Matters” was released in April 2023 and it remains one of the most accomplished and impressive debut singles of recent years.

Their debut full-length album, Prelude to Ecstasy, produced by the legendary James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine), is a body of work that summons a swirling maelstrom of emotions, beautifully judged theatrical flourishes, and songs that swing between euphoria, rage, passion, and heartbreak. There’s an air of faded glamour, which can put you in mind of the fall of the Roman Empire meets the decadence of pre-war Berlin, yet it never sounds flashy, bombastic, or overproduced. It’s also an album that leaves you in no doubt that these young women are hugely accomplished musicians. Take Emily Roberts’ spectacular guitar work, for example, providing the album’s engine and tonal brilliance with her perfectly judged riffs and dramatic solos.

After opening with a suitably cinematic instrumental, the band launch into a live favorite, the brilliant brooding “Burn Alive”—containing striking lyrics such as, “There is candle wax melting in my veins/So I keep myself standing in your flames.” Throughout, The Last Dinner Party demonstrate a huge range of styles from the anthemic brilliance of their aforementioned debut single, “Nothing Matters,” to the fragile beauty of “On Your Side,” to the mini-goth rock opera that is “Portrait of a Dead Girl.” They even slip in an evocative Albanian language song in the shape of “Gjuha,” sung beautifully by keyboardist Aurora Nishevci as a homage to her mother tongue.

Ford’s production finesses but never overwhelms weaving guitars that snarl and soar, orchestral swells that add epic grandeur, and electronic flourishes that hint at something darker and more introspective. Perhaps it doesn’t quite capture the magical energy of the band’s live performances, but again, that is a totally different experience that would be hard to replicate. Album of the year? Without a doubt, it will be a strong contender. (www.thelastdinnerparty.co.uk)

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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