Nearly a year after the hit release of “Nothing Matters”, ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’, invites us to a world of romance, girlhood and sexuality, tinged with gothic flair.
The album’s first track and namesake aurally invokes the whimsical fantasy of the London quintet. In this style, the band draws inspiration from the likes of Kate Bush as well as Florence and the Machine both musically and thematically. Feeling as though you have just stepped onto the set of a period drama, the first few melancholic chords of “Burn Alive” teases listeners with a vignette of the gothic sound the album gains throughout – this soon fades into new wave-like synth pop that, to some, may initially feel out of place on the album. However, the emotive lyricism of lead singer Abigail Morris anchors the overall energy of the album with her ever-euphoric vocals despite the chaos unfurling around her, accompanied by the choral harmonies of both Lizzie Mayland (guitar) and Aurora Nishevci (keys).
“Nothing Matters”, “My Lady of Mercy” and “Feminine Urge” follow the band’s formula of making a sumptuous alternative rock track, vocally coy and lyrically immodest. “Feminine Urge” is a standout track with its cooly crass lyrics, Emily Roberts’ extravagant guitar riffs and Georgia Davies’ bass lines reminiscent of Marina and the Diamond’s iconic “Electra Heart” album – which no doubt played a role in the operatic exploration of girlhood the band has created with this album. “Gjuha”, a track sung by keyboardist Nishevci, is a clear homage to her Albanian roots:, a real curveball serving as an interval, of sorts to the album – reflective perhaps of the development of the band since their formation in 2021. The poetic falsettos of the song do not seem out of place but rather at one with the alchemy that the band has created in their own, beautifully turbulent, sound.
It is no surprise that the band not only make reference to literature and film in their eclectic and theatrical music videos such as “Caesar on a TV screen”, but also in their lyrics. “Beautiful Boy” references F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ and the quote “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” from the wealthy but purposeless Daisy Buchanan. The track however masterfully opposes this view with Morris singing, “The best a boy can be is pretty” – showing the contemporary viewpoint of the band through a powerful feminine voice amongst sprinklings of archaic fashion and sound. Other tracks like “Sinner”, and “My Lady of Mercy”, discuss sexuality – this time anger and jealousy at men, and the unrequited lust felt towards a woman who only has eyes for a “beautiful boy” as mentioned in track six.
The final track demonstrates more of the thoughtful yet maximalist essence of the album. “Mirror”, literally reflects the subversive orchestral sound of the first track as though the piece has been playing throughout the album, and runs through it like the motifs of sexuality and girlhood; with signature gothic and hedonistic flamboyance. Overall, a perfect first introduction to the lavish, eclectic energy of the quintet. The chaos which we see throughout the album will no doubt lead onto further deep dives into queer and female experiences alike.