Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Review: ABBA’s comeback album is dominated by ballads

The Journey, ABBA (Capitol Records)

A bouncy synth beat connects decades and brings ABBA to the present.

“You look bewildered,” sings Agneta Feltskog, overcoming the retro rhythm, “and you wonder why I’m here today.”

Well, yes.

ABBA are back with their first album since 1981. While skeptics may ask why, four Scandinavian 70s have decided why not, and Voyage is doing nothing to tarnish their legacy as global hitmakers.

The zest of “Just a Notion” sounds in the middle of a set of 10 songs. The rhythm begins and then the saxophones. The singers shift to a higher register, and the percussive piano chords help the arrangement flourish. Sugar rush!

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Alas, such a brisk pace is an exception. Like most of us who flourished in the 1970s, ABBA has slowed down.

“Voyage” is dominated by ballads and the mood is mostly melancholic, as Feltskog and Annie-Fried Lyngstad sing about relationships, Christmas, freedom and bees. More tunes are written for Broadway than for Eurovision, and the entire album contains fewer clues than 2½ minutes of Waterloo.

Regardless, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulveus remain great masters as composers and arrangers, and Lyngstad and Fältskog’s vocals – now downgraded – still fit perfectly. After more than 40 years of silence, it’s good to hear.

Nation World News Desk
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