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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Criticism: The Last Dinner Party’s ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’

Art critic Emma Ehle says The Last Dinner Party’s “Prelude to Ecstasy” is dripping with grandeur in its romantic lyricism and baroque visuals. (Photo via Raph_PH/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Rating: 8/10


On Friday, Feb. 2, The Last Dinner Party released the official theatre-kid love child of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Florence and the Machine (if conceived in an 18th-century French society).

The album, Prelude to Ecstasy, is the latest project of up-and-coming British rock band The Last Dinner Party, a girl group that gained traction earlier this year after their song “Nothing Matters” went viral on TikTok. While the band has received several accusations of being a so-called “industry plant” — with their seemingly instantaneous rise in popularity raising alarm bells to more skeptical audiences — The Last Dinner Party (TLDP hereafter) has actually been around for several years, making their debut in December of 2021 before joining Hozier on his 2023 tour of the UK and Ireland. 

While both the band and album aesthetic reek of the recent ribbons and lace trend of the internet’s “coquette craze,” whether or not TLDP will likewise rise and fall with the fickle trend cycle is still unclear. What is clear, however, is that the group has produced an irrefutably strong debut album. 

Equal parts experimental and aptly familiar, “Prelude to Ecstasy” is a stylistically complex project that blends baroque aesthetics, art pop elements and the guttural vibrato of a 1990s singer-songwriter in order to produce something that is both contemporary and classic. The album — which radiates romance and chic grandeur — also manages to push past the surface of its trendy visuals, exploring love, loss, sexuality and self-perception; all through the lens of something deeply cathartic.

In terms of standouts, the album’s viral lead single “Nothing Matters” is a clear-cut front- runner. Between the track’s catchy melody, unique instrumentals, jarring lyricism and the ornamental quiver of lead singer Abigail Morris’ breathy vocals, it’s no surprise that “Nothing Matters” has seen such rapid success. 

Additionally, “Burn Alive” — which, according to Morris, was always intended to be the album’s lead single — showcases similar potential for commercial success, producing a swelling chorus that bubbles over with catharsis and coarse self-awareness. 

“I am not the girl I set out to be,” Morris sings with conviction. “Let me make my grief a commodity.” 

According to the 24-year-old lead singer, “Burn Alive” was the first song to exist within TLDP and pertains to the death of her late father. 

“Lyrically, it always felt like a mission statement,” Morris told Apple Music. “I wrote it just after my father passed away, and it was the idea of, ‘Let me make my grief a commodity’ — this kind of slightly sarcastic, ‘I’m going to put my heart on the line and all my pain and everything for a buck.’” 

Other standouts on the album include the powerful “Caesar on a TV Screen,” the hauntingly fierce “Portrait of a Dead Girl” and the introspective “The Feminine Urge.” 

Ultimately, Prelude to Ecstasy is a unique, captivating and cohesive project that foreshadows future success for this green new group. While there is still the question of if and how the band’s image will shift once their baroque, romantic visuals are no longer considered trendy, the group’s music substantiates the notion that they will be able to adapt accordingly. Therefore, we will all just have to wait and see — will this be The Last Dinner Party’s final feast? Or, will they live to “devour” another album?

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