After 40 years, ABBA has finally given its fans what they have been so patiently waiting for. The Swedish Europop group released Voyage on Nov. 5. This is the first album of new material the group has released since The Visitors came out in 1981.
Although the band split up in the early ’80s, it seems that every generation since has fallen in love with ABBA’s glamorous disco sound, and its legacy has only blossomed with time. The only musical reunion as highly anticipated as this one would be Donna and the Dynamos themselves, who sang the band’s music in the beloved movie Mamma Mia!
Songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus took on the very difficult task of appealing to modern day musical standards while still preserving feelings of nostalgia for their original music. But, they made a point not to modernize their unique sound to conform to the standards of contemporary pop.
Andersson and Ulvaeus couldn’t be expected to replicate songs like “Mamma Mia” or “Dancing Queen.” These songs are works of art that cannot be recreated—except possibly by Meryl Streep. While Voyage is not as iconic as the albums that gave the world these hits—including the band’s 1976 record, Arrival—the new album still offers joyous bops that listeners can’t resist dancing along to.
Given the famed history of the group and its music, it is no surprise that the popular themes on the album involve reminiscing about the past and remembering old friends. Even the rhythms of a few of the new tracks allude to some older fan favorites. The opening to “Bumblebee” is very similar to “Fernando,” and “Keep An Eye On Dan” has a harmony very much like the one in “SOS.” The band seems to refer to its hit “Dancing Queen” in the new track “When You Danced With Me,” singing “You’re just here for the music, that’s all, or could it be / You miss the good old times when you danced with me.”
“Don’t Shut Me Down” is by far the best song on the album. It is classic ABBA—a slow introduction into a flavorful chorus that feels like it could belong on an earlier album. In fact, “Just A Notion” was originally going to appear on the band’s 1979 album Voulez-Vous, but it was removed just before the release. It was definitely worthy of making that album, but it is nevertheless a terrific addition to Voyage. Andersson and Ulvaeus continue to demonstrate their love for writing songs that have a certain auditory unpredictability to them, as they add dramatic shifts between high energy pop tunes and softer crooning all on the same track.
Voyage is vintage ABBA at heart. If listening to it doesn’t make you want to pull out the sequin pantsuit hidden in the back of your closet, then there is probably nothing that will. ABBA did in fact “take a chance” with this album and proved that it was certainly a chance worth taking. So after the release of Voyage, all there is left to say to the band is “thank you for the music.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Polar Universal