The long-awaited comeback album by Abba is finally here.
The Swedish band, all now in their 70s, recorded the 10-track effort after reuniting to film the concert performance, which will feature “Abba-tar” versions of themselves.
– Here the PA news agency’s Alex Green gives his verdict.
This may be the mother of all pop reunions.
After almost 40 years, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad have reformed to release one final album – an ode to their long, tangled history.
Abba, like Fleetwood Mac – another 70s group whose best songs emerged from their marital woes, have never really gone out of fashion.
But recent years have seen the Swedish troupe rehabilitated from purveyors of guilty pleasures and Magic FM favourites to a force capable of capturing a new generation of TikTok-native listeners.
This may have had something to do with their ever-growing commercial empire: a hit musical, two films, an immersive dining experience and now a virtual concert featuring “Abbatars” performing their greatest hits in a purpose-built London venue.
Voyage, however, should dispel any suggestion the band are making new music for cash.
One can safely assume they are not struggling in that department.
Voyage, it is clear, is about legacy.
Abba have been clear.
This is their final album – and it neatly bookends their career.
Wisely, the band do not attempt to reinvent the wheel.
Instead, songwriters Benny and Bjorn opt to address the topics that affect them now: aging, parenthood, divorce, domestic struggle and, ultimately, acceptance.
This makes Voyage a strangely moving experience, given their back catalogue has become synonymous with unshackled good times.
I Still Have Faith In You, an ode to their enduring working relationship, hits all the right minor-key notes.
Agnetha and Anni-Frid’s voices, deepened by time, intertwine to deliver pure emotional wallop.
It is a subdued but emotional performance, and when they sing, “We stand on a summit / Humble and grateful to have survived” it’s hard to stop the tears from welling.
The band only truly let loose on Keep An Eye On Dan, a simmering ode to co-parenting with theatrical strings, anthemic synths and a crescendo of a finale.
It captures some of energy of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) but instead of lust, we get a more mature subject matter.
Are you ready to see your first #ABBAVoyage concert trailer including brand new, never-before-seen footage!? 👀💫
Check back here at 10am when tickets for our new dates go on sale! pic.twitter.com/pF3jOccqZa
— ABBA Voyage (@ABBAVoyage) November 2, 2021
That’s not to say Voyage is devoid of the quirkiness that made Abba’s heyday so beloved.
Bumble Bee is, well, an ode to the humble bumble bee that laments their plight and contains the immortal line, “Oh, how I do adore the sight / Of his rather clumsy, erratic flight”.
Ode To Freedom, which closes the album, shoots for pathos but delivers something rather more shallow. It’s a rare misstep.
These songs won’t become dance floor staples, but they justify Abba’s decision to name their final album Voyage.
It’s an apt culmination to their 50-year journey.