"A unique and limitless artistic vision, totally redefining what a guitar band can do": The Last Dinner Party's dazzling debut Prelude To Ecstasy shows exactly why they're the most exciting new band in Britain

The Last Dinner Party's Prelude To Ecstasy is one of the most anticipated debut albums in recent memory. It does not disappoint

Prelude To Ecstasy
(Image: © Island)

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From the moment they emerged into the spotlight with their incredible debut single Nothing Matters, The Last Dinner Party were clearly unlike any other band in the UK. Their songs feel more like a work of art than a piece of music, their gigs often come with dress codes like ‘O Muse!’ ‘Victoriana’ and ‘Velvet Goldmine’, and their audience is as much a religious following as it is a group of fans. It's deeply unfortunate then that talk of their artistry is too often followed by a constant barrage of accusations that they are industry plants, artificially built by label connections to make money. Happily, the quintet's debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy, forces you to disregard these laughable claims and take notice of the world that the London-based band are building.

Prelude To Ecstasy begins with the pure cinema of Prelude, an instrumental, orchestral opener that could soundtrack a tragic ballet, going above and beyond the expectations we set when we hear the words ‘indie rock.’ The Feminine Urge conjures up images of a cross-country road trip fleeing the authorities, lying on the bed of a seedy motel, or walking down rain-soaked streets lit by buzzing neon lights. At least, these are the films that play in my head when I listen to the song, but I get the sense that every listener will have a different and very personal reaction to The Last Dinner Party.

There’s an intimate exploration of gender and power threaded throughout the album, articulating a new and feral kind of femininity that will baffle some and deeply resonate with others. Their depiction of masculinity and femininity on recent single Caeser on a TV Screen is abstract and artistic as singer Abigail Morris sings,  “When I was a child / I never felt like a child / I felt like an emperor / With a city to burn”, but it still holds the ability to unlock a wild sense of strength in the listener. Intense emotion is a power, not a weakness; hysteria is celebrated.

In just 12 tracks, they explore a bewildering number of genres and styles. Burn Alive is gothic and sharp, packed with opulent and indulgent images of “candle wax melting in my veins”, while Gjuha, performed in Albanian by keyboardist Aurora Nishevci, embraces traditional folk in stunning ways. There are a few comparisons you can make throughout with the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, and even the off-kilter pop of Marina, but for the most part, what The Last Dinner Party are doing is wholly new. The moments where they fail to capture your full attention are few and far between.

Yes, The Last Dinner Party seem to be picking up every industry award available to them, and yes, they have had opportunities that few bands get so early in their career. But they’ve used these springboards to realise a unique and limitless artistic vision, totally redefining what a guitar band can do and leaving an indelible mark on the UK music scene. To say that they deserve their success in no way implies that other artists don’t deserve the same. We complain when young artists aren’t getting the attention they deserve, and now it seems we complain when they do. Look past the baseless claims and enter the vast world of The Last Dinner Party. You’ll never want to leave.

Freelance writer, Louder

In addition to contributing to Louder, Vicky writes for The Line of Best Fit, Gigwise, New Noise Magazine and more.