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New Music: The Last Dinner Party - Prelude To Ecstasy

The album cover of Prelude To Ecstasy, the new record from The Last Dinner Party available to buy at Applestump Records

As far as debut albums go Prelude to Ecstasy by The Last Dinner Party has been the most eagerly anticipated debut album for quite some time. Since the release of Nothing Matters, the debut single, in April last year there has been an incredible amount of hype and excitement for this album. There has also been a lot of rubbish written about the band, phrases including “Industry Plant” have been unfairly thrown around. Firstly all that has done is add to the hype and secondly, and most importantly, the term industry plant just shows that people do not understand the music industry. Just because you may have friends in other bands who might suggest a venue to play in or suggest a person to get in contact with does not mean you are an ‘industry plant’, that is simply how it works and has done since year dot. The other question to ask is would a five-piece male guitar band be accused of being an ‘industry plant’ in quite the same way as The Last Dinner Party have? The answer to that question is a big fat NO!!  Everyone just get over yourself, an indie guitar band can be all female, can look and sound as amazing as The Last Dinner Party do. The fact they are all female should not be a talking point, they are just simply an amazing band who are leading the way in music right now.

After that opening paragraph, I think you may have worked out that in my humble opinion Prelude to Ecstasy has more than lived up to the expectation and the hype that have surrounded The Last Dinner Party. From start to finish this is a theatrical, cinematic, grand, creative album full of inspirational pop songs that will hopefully inspire a new generation of friends to get together write songs, fall in love with the arts and literature and do what makes you happy. The orchestral overture title track that opens the album instantly lets you know you are in the presence of greatness; in 96 seconds this piece of music will instantly take you away from the mundane and transport you to a magical place full of colour and imagination where anything is possible. Burn Alive arrives next with a very dramatic opening before exploding into a chorus that inspires and makes you feel glad to be alive. Caesar on a TV Screen is another perfect modern day pop song, with shifts in time signatures that will ensure this is a song that will live long in the memory. The song is rousing and defiant “Just for a second / I could be one of the greats” “When I was a child / I never felt like a child / I felt like an emperor with a city to burn.”. 

Every song on this album is truly a piece of genius, The Feminine Urge has so many melodic indie pop hooks that will get you dancing whilst singing powerful lyrics that conjure up some very interesting images “I’m a dark red liver stretched out on a rock”. On Your Side, which at the moment is my favourite song on the album, I love the sweetness in the melodies and the lyrics “When its 4am and your heart is breaking / I will hold your hands / To stop them from shaking / If it takes all night / I will be on your side”. There are also parts of this song and Caesar on a TV Screen where the lyrical delivery reminds me of The Long Blondes, yes there are more obvious comparisons throughout the album (Florence and the Machine) but there are Long Blondes comparisons to be made which is very high praise indeed.

Beautiful Boy continues to show the softer side of the band, musically it is very theatrical, lyrically it deals with how we can be envious of others “What I’m feeling isn’t lust it's envy”.  Gjuha opens with lyrics being sung in Albanian, and then builds into drama and suspense that will have you hanging on tightly to everything you hear. Sinner will of course be familiar due to the radio play it has received, it is another perfect pop song, that will have you singing along, smiling, punching the air with joy. Lyrically it captures simple times and seems to deal with sexuality and religion “I wish I knew you / When touch was innocent / I wish I knew you before it felt like a sin”. My Lady of Mercy was written for a big audience, the way The Last Dinner Party turn opera into pop music truly is something to cherish. Portrait of a Dead Girl is moving, intelligent, taking inspiration from art, dealing with vulnerability, power dynamics in relationships and turning all of that into a great pop song that will resonate with and inspire many.

I love the fact that they have left Nothing Matters for the penultimate song on the album. It shows the confidence of The Last Dinner Party as a band that they did not have to include their breakthrough single early in the album. The album proves they have more than one trick up their sleeve and are not dependent on that incredible debut single. But what a song Nothing Matters is, this is a song that will outlive us all. It is inspiring and uplifting, and has some great guitar riffs. Lyrically it is up there with the greats, yes there are radio edits, but it is powerful and important to hear a female sing “I will fuck you like nothing matters”, to be in control and not to be submissive. Although as a male who first listened to this album at 6am on my morning run, I did find myself singing aloud and may have got a few strange looks from the early morning dog walkers.

If you listen to Matt Everitt’s New Album Fix show on 6Music and believe in the importance of an album you will be familiar with the view that the last song on the album is very important.  How it is a song that is very rarely a single, it is a song that is put there to bring the curtain down on the album and tries to capture everything the album has been trying to achieve. The Last Dinner Party have chosen Mirror to end the album, and this is a perfect example of the importance of the closing song. It is a dramatic curtain closer and summarises everything we have heard throughout the previous eleven pieces of music. The music is suspenseful, and the lyrics appear to be a reflection on fame and fortune “And lately I’ve been thinking / What if I keep sinking? / If I drown will they make me a star? / When you drown do they know who you are?” as with the start we are also treated to an orchestral ending to leave us in no doubt that we have listened to a very special album.

Let's all be grateful we have a band like The Last Dinner Party, a group of friends formed during university who love and support each other, and make the music they believe in. This is a band who we hope are going to be with us, creating music for a very long time to come.  Lets all enjoy Prelude to Ecstasy, show the band how much we love and appreciate them and follow them on their next chapter of what I am sure is going to be a very interesting and fun journey ahead.

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