Voyage is ABBA’s first new studio album in 40 years and sees the super Swedes pretty much carrying on where they left off, bringing mature Pop/Rock to the masses.
Written by: gdmonline
SERIAL: 006024 38885800
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Benny Anderrson – piano, synths * Bjorn Ulvaeus – associate producer * Agnetha Faltskog – vocals * Anni-Frid Lyngstad – vocals * Per Lindvall – drums, percussion * Lasse Wellander, Lasse Jonsson – guitars * Mats Englund – bass (I Can Be That Woman) * Par Grebacken – flute, baritone saxophone * Margareta Bengston – harp * Stockholm Concert Orchestra – Conductor, Goran Arnberg * Children’s Choir Of Stockholm International School
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Still Have Faith In You * 02 When You Danced With Me * 03 Little Things * 04 Don’t Shut Me Down * 05 Just A Notion * 06 I Can Be That Woman * 07 Keep An Eye On Dan * 08 Bumble Bee * 09 No Doubt About It * 10 Ode To Freedom
It was back in 2018 that there were rumours circulating that the ABBA machine was, after lying dormant for many years slowly coming back to life with news that the band had recorded 2 brand new songs, but then came…well nothing really. So, fast forward to September of this year and a carefully coordinated worldwide campaign was launched in that instead of a couple of songs there was in fact going to be a full new album.
Not stopping there though, the band also announced a tour (of sorts)that would be incorporating the latest holographic technology ‘ABBA-tars’, at a specially built London theatre starting sometime in 2022 giving fans the opportunity to witness the ABBA phenomenon, if not in the flesh then in a ‘virtual’ setting. 40 years away from the scene is a long time for any band and now it’s the turn of ABBA to see if the wait has all been worthwhile.
It’s all about the songs with ABBA, and it should come as no surprise that ‘Voyage’ still has that strange but enticing mix of Glam, Scandinavian Disco and epic pop. Some of the tracks are leftovers from the 70’s (Bumblebee, and Just A Notion), but the rest are all new compositions.
The voices of Agnetha and Anni Frid still blend together quite beautifully and effortlessly and time has seemingly not diminished their power, whereas Benny and Bjorn can still conjure up an immaculate pop tune or two.
‘I Still Have Faith In You’ rises from a slow introduction into a stately piece of epic pop that only ABBA could get away with really, and ‘When You Danced With Me’ with it Celtic like intro takes the listener on a trip down memory lane with a very 70’s sounding song.
‘Little Things ‘sees the band hit the first bump in the road and the song is far too twee for me. A children’s choir inevitably join in, but it’ll go down well at Christmas I guess. ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is an altogether better song, its crammed full of what ABBA were all about back in the day with its finally crafted melodies and immaculate vocal performances.
‘Just A Notion’ a song that as a left over from the ‘Voulez Vouz’ sessions back in 1978 is a harmless piece of 50’s style pop fluff that the band were, and still are so adept at doing. ‘I Can Be That Woman’ on the surface is an angst heavy epic ballad, with some simply gorgeous strings but dig into the lyrics and you find out it all about a dog!! I was reminded of fellow Swedes Roxette on this track, no bad thing eh?
‘Keep A Eye On Dan’ is one of the best things on show here, a slightly understated track but one that creeps up on the listener with its classis disco influenced melody and clever use of synths, there’s even time for a nod towards the ABBA classic ‘SOS’ as the track fades. ‘Bumblebee’ is another leftover that the band decided to resurrect and comes over all ‘Chiquitita/Fernando’ on us, and is the bands stab at writing about climate change…ho hum.
‘No Doubt About It’ is an altogether better proposition with guitar and drums powering the song along, and sees the band in somewhat carefree mood, and the closer ‘Ode To Freedom’ has a wide cinematic feel to it both sweeping and dramatic with an almost Enya feel to it, and is a fine way to end an album that in the main will satisfy the majority of ABBA fans.
An unqualified success? Well not completely, but most of it works for me. There were always hidden depths to ABBA songs, scrape away at the surface and you’ll find songs full of adult melodrama, all wrapped up rather neatly in some gorgeous pop melodies, and at least the band hasn’t pandered to any of the current, quite awful pop tropes and has stuck to their guns in terms of songwriting and performance. ‘Voyage’ is in essence a nostalgia trip, albeit with a few hiccups along the way but ultimately it’s a trip well worth the money.. money, money.
I Still Have Faith In You
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[Dave T] Brilliant review. I still have to listen to the complete album, but it gives me the whole picture about what to expect from it 🙂
[Gdazegod] Picked it up yesterday, it will get a hefty amount of playing time this weekend.
[Explorer] This album improves with repeated listens. There are still some weak moments though for sure, and if the band don’t do another single thing I’ll be quite happy in the way they have signed off. Saw them live back in the day, and still one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen.
[PatrickHemming] Well done my friend. I was quite pleased, especially after hearing the three preview songs before it’s release. It was a good prep course for the album proper as clearly quality was coming down the line????