The Last Dinner Party’s ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’: Emily Dickinson with an Electric Guitar

British Indie band The Last Dinner Party had their breakout year in 2023, with their debut single “Nothing Matters” going viral. The Guardian recently called them “The year’s most hyped band,” and similarly, I agree with the statement that their debut album “Prelude to Ecstasy” “totally delivers.”

The group was formed in 2021 in London and consists of five female friends: Abigail Morris, Lizzie Mayland, Emily Roberts, Georgia Davies and Aurora Nishevci. The most striking thing about the band is their eclectic and cool style, a mixture between gothic horror and 19th century poetry. Their sound is equally maximalist, with dazzling orchestral music and intense guitar solos.

The Last Dinner Party has recently won the BBC Sound Of… poll and the Brits Rising Star award, and through most of the songs on ”Prelude to Ecstasy,” it’s not hard to see why. The album opens with the title track, “Prelude to Ecstasy.” It is one minute and 35 seconds of pure overwhelming baroque orchestra. I have never listened to an indie/rock album and the opening song was entirely orchestral, but it immediately sets the rock tone. “Burn Alive,” the second song on the tracklist, is similarly decadent and horror-infused. 

The album and the band very much lean into feminism, with lead singer Morris yearning to be one of the ‘greats’ of ancient times in “Caesar on a TV Screen.” Morris sings “No one can tell me to stop / I’ll have everything I want,” and describes feeling like an “emperor” when she was just a child. “The Feminine Urge” continues this vein of political non-conformism, although it is one of my least favorite tracks on the album. Sometimes it all just feels a bit too much on the nose.

“On Your Side” plays with the idea of how cannibalism is used in some media to portray female love and intimacy, with lines such as “This blood on my face / Where your teeth sunk in / Bite me again.” This is perhaps more of a trend in film and music lately (think “Yellowjackets,” the female teen survival drama, nominated for several Emmy awards). 

The seventh track “Gjuha” is perhaps the most bizarre. Sung entirely in Albanian, it reminisces on language and the loss of culture by not knowing your language and heritage. However, the punk-gothic feel and tone of the song is very much still there, with rich harmonization through the use of the choir.

Overall, there are only a few minor faults to this delightful album. It feels like the image and sound of the band have already been formed, with strong lyricism and even stronger vocals and guitar riffs. The band and album feel very modern, with its female focus and rich imagery. The lyrics of most songs have strong queer undertones, with its radical-feminist themes apparent. It leaves me with the feeling that the band members are staking their claim in the traditionally male-dominated rock industry. This is summarized in the opening line of “Beautiful Boy” and throughout the track: “The best a boy can ever be is pretty.”

Recommended for You