Voyage, by ABBA
Voyage is the first new album of ABBA material since 1982’s The Visitors (review forthcoming), and marks a striking return for the Swedish pop group. Those who have been paying attention to my single reviews have seen that I have been hyped for this project for a while as three songs have been released and reviewed as singles already . So far the songs released have a sense of a victory lap combined with a return to the sound of ABBA mixed with a timely reminder of the present-day and the passage of time that has taken place between ABBA’s heyday and today. So where does this album sit as a whole? Let us see.
Voyage begins with the beautiful “I Still Have Faith In You,” with its implicit musical promise of good faith between the group members. Following that is “When You Danced With Me,” a beautiful love song that definitely hits the right nostalgic angles and an intriguing musical background that fits in well with their existing body of work. “Little Things” is a Christmas song that straddles a few boundaries in reflecting on children as well on the role adults play in the festival. “Don’t Shut Me Down,” then follows, a song that hints on contemporary technology as well as the group’s history, a satisfying mixture that fits with the ABBA sound. “Just A Notion” then continues with another classic ABBA track that reflects on the tension between romantic notions and reality that runs through ABBA’s work as a whole. “I Can Be That Woman” is a melancholy song about love and the feeling of jealousy in a dysfunctional relationship. “Keep An Eye On Dan” then turns ominous with its discussions of suspicion and warning about things becoming traumatic and getting out of hand in what appears to be a co-parenting relationship. “Bumblebee” turns to a pastoral mood with soaring instrumentals and bittersweet lyrics. “No Doubt About It” expresses a self-critical view of self-sabotaging tendencies in a relationship with a complex instrumental palette. “Ode To Freedom” then closes the album with a beautiful song that lives up to its name with harmonies, gorgeous strings, and a long instrumental introduction.
If you are and have been a fan for ABBA, this album is exactly what one would expect from the band after their long hiatus, especially if you have enjoyed the singles released before the album. This is a project that sits within the emotional register of the group’s work as a whole, that expresses the passage of time as well as a look at the aging process in the voices of the group, and that also looks in a couple of tracks towards the next generation as well. While it is to be regretted that we missed out on dozens of great albums over the course of nearly 40 years off, this album is worth the wait. It provides a fitting expression of the way that four people can recapture the magic of participating together in the creation of beautiful music that both acknowledges and transcends the ravages of time.
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