Today, somewhat unexpectedly to me, at least, I found myself among the first people who was aware of a new ABBA single release with the two tracks “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” as a double-A sided single. While it is not my intent here to give a great deal of spoilers as to the songs’ contents, both songs are highly meta songs that reflect on the state of ABBA at present, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the generally high quality of both songs is something that appears to have inspired the group to carry on in recording a full album that is scheduled to be released this November. Off of these two songs, I must admit I am pretty hyped for the project as a whole.
“I Still Have Faith In You” is the first track, and it is a ballad that sounds like a well-earned victory lap as lead singer Frida reflects on the bittersweet song that the group shares, its union that has endured decades, and the way that their story has survived the decades to this day. It is precisely the sort of note one would want to strike as a “we’re back” sort of moment to fans who have taken an in interest in the group’s music in the last few decades as ABBA went from perhaps a bit overexposed to cool again through the success of their compilation ABBA Gold (and More ABBA Gold, let us not forget) as well as the Mamma Mia series. Your fondness for this track will depend on the way you like hearing classic ABBA singing a new song with soaring instrumentals.
“Don’t Shut Me Down” has a less obvious but no less profound meta statement, given that the band has an upcoming tour with the ABBAtars that were introduced in the music video to “I Still Have Faith In You.” Given the band’s understandable decision to present a public face of their music being not the aged members of the group but rather avatars showing the band at their peak in the late 1970’s using technology to present a more youthful image that is in keeping with the group’s original music rather than their current appearance. This use of avatars also encouraged them, apparently, to think about the avatars as having their own feelings and having been rebooted and reborn and finding things much the same as they were when they were last around, a telling reference to the desire of ABBA to pick up where they left off after 40 years apart. At least from this biased reviewers perspective, one wonders what took them so long. It is a miracle they are all still alive and still interested in music and what it has to offer, and they still have something new and worthwhile to provide, so I like what is here and look forward to their full album, which I intend to listen to when it comes out.