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Album Review: 'Prelude to Ecstacy' impresses, fails simultaneously 

If you've been scrolling on TikTok, you've likely heard the song "Nothing Matters" by The Last Dinner Party. A newcomer to the British indie-rock scene, the band has grown overnight after the success of this single, being the recent recipient of BBC's Sound of 2024 Award. 

On Feb. 2, the band released its first studio album, "Prelude to Ecstacy," containing heavy pop influences reminiscent of Marina and the Diamonds and the Welch. A concept album that aesthetically and sonically revolves around Victorian-like sounds and 1980s rock, the new record impresses but also fails.

Maybe the rumors are true. Maybe The Last Dinner Party is an "industry plant," sounding like every alt-girl band that has come out of the last few years – i.e. MUNA, The Aces. Or maybe it's because the band has displayed its potential to grow, hence the flaws of this album. Whatever one chooses to believe, this group excels at capturing adulthood's distinct images and feelings.

For example, the second track on the record, "Burn Alive," is arguably a standout for its gothic imagery. Lead singer Abigail Morris portrays a love affair gone wrong as fantasy, comparing her ex-lover to a vampire. 

She sings, "Bite marks on my back / I never could say no / You don't wanna hurt me / But I want you to / I'd break off my rib / To make another you." Addictive and compulsive, these feelings are evident throughout the track, and the band continues to build on the themes of love and addiction moving forward.

Addiction comes in various forms, such as power, which we hear on "Caesar on a TV Screen." Morris channels the persona of Julius Caesar himself, letting his ego take over. While this song is extremely grandiose, it's also riddled with conflict. Morris sings of wanting power, but it's fueled by the self-doubt and insecurities she dealt with as a child, leading her to desire conformity over likeability. Overall, it's a complex and interesting point of view displayed by the band, making it another likable track.

However, the album begins to lose listeners with songs that just drone on. The middle of the album sadly achieves this with tracks like "The Feminine Urge," "Gjuha" and "My Lady of Mercy." Even though each track projects a different sound, even in different languages, it's nothing worth noting. 

Yet, there are glimpses of redemption with the songs "Beautiful Boy" and "Sinner." It's refreshing to hear a song that focuses so intently on why women find envy in being a man. With lyrics like, "The best a boy can ever be is pretty / He launches ships on which he sails to safety / And what I'm feeling isn't lust, it's envy / He has the Earth, makes love to her to spite me," The Last Dinner Party have made a song any female-identifying listener can easily relate to.

Another callback to power and the male gaze, "Beautiful Boy," is stripped down to emphasize its point that being a woman is hard, plain and simple. Meanwhile, "Sinner" addresses the loss of innocence many women feel once they begin to view someone as more than a friend. Comparing love to religion, Morris admits to her urge to sacrifice anything for the sake of love. It's an impressive display of the band's cohesiveness as well, as each instrument matched with Morris' vocals compliment each other with ease.

This album simply cannot be what it is without "Nothing Matters." Even if it tends most viral indie songs to have simple, somewhat cheesy lyrics, its vibe just feels cool. You could easily listen to this song on a long drive or at a party with your friends, letting go of all your inhibitions. Stellar lines include "And you can hold me like he held her / And I will f--- you like nothing matters," and it's hard not to like this song for its message of freedom and release.

The ending of this album should've been "Nothing Matters," as "Mirror" causes The Last Dinner Party to leave their listeners on a sour, dark note. While probably intentional because of how two-sided this record is, it didn't leave me wanting more. Yet, it did leave me thinking of what this band plans to do next sonically, especially after not expanding too heavily on its sound.

Overall, "Prelude to Ecstacy" has its staples but also has much room for improvement. However, there is no doubt that The Last Dinner Party will continue to gain traction, as this band has already proven you can go viral for writing simply and with awareness. It may not be the best record of 2024, but it is a quirky, reflective debut record to listen to at least once.

Rating: 3/5 


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