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5 November 2021, 11:41
It's no exaggeration to say it was a major shock when ABBA announced they'd be returning with new music after 40 years.
After an acrimonious split back in 1982, it would be a safe bet that ABBA would never reunite with their original lineup.
Now, ABBA Voyage is here, the album of new ABBA music that will accompany their run of ground-breaking virtual tour performances in London next year.
We've already heard comeback singles 'I Still Have Faith In You' and 'Don't Shut Me Down', as well as 'Just A Notion' that was released only several weeks ago. But is the album worth the wait?
Here's a collection of verdicts from leading publications, and the reviews are a bit mixed. All in all, however, the general consensus seems to be that it was certainly worth the wait despite it not quite making the grade of their classic repertoire.
The Independent gushed about the four-piece's return, giving ABBA Voyage their seal of approval with a five-star rating:
"It’s a terrific, family-friendly smorgasbord of a record that delivers all the classic ABBA flavours."
Likewise, Rolling Stone Magazine said that it was a welcome surprise that they've returned with such a strong album:
"It’s a surprise to have these Swedes back in the game. But it’s a bigger, sweeter surprise that they returned so full of musical vitality."
Pitchfork was also similarly impressed, saying that they'd not lost the joy and excitement that their music brings to millions globally:
"ABBA understand, perhaps better than any other band, the epic importance of pop music against the humdrum rumble of everyday life. Pop matters to ABBA because people and feelings matter. Maturity might bring wisdom, but Voyage proves you don’t have to be boring with it."
Other corners of the media world weren't as superlative, but still gave ABBA Voyage positive reviews nonetheless with NME saying:
"There are some bumpy moments along the way, but this ‘Voyage’ is a nostalgia trip worth taking."
The Telegraph were also slightly on the fence about ABBA's return:
"When the harmonies blend and Andersson’s piano rings out, it sounds enough like Abba to have hardcore fans tossing their feather boas in the air. But the dancing queens have lost the spring in their step, and the result is out-of-time rather than timeless."
As was the Evening Standard:
"It’s hard to envisage anything here elbowing its way onto a future edition of the Gold album. Of course it’s wonderful, miraculous even, to see and hear them again, but these aren’t the songs people will clamour for when those concerts begin.”
Of course, it wasn't going to impress everyone as The Guardian review stated.
"Rather than reflecting poignantly on the past, much of the rest of Voyage feels terminally stuck there."
Equally, The Sydney Morning Herald made no bones about the album being a "bunch of utter schlock":
"The bad news is that there’s a bunch of utter schlock here… Can Be That Woman, a lead-footed ballad that uses a dog as a focus for a troubled relationship; Keep An Eye On Dan, which sounds like a Boney M B-side; Bumble Bee, a fluffy throwaway that appears to exist solely to recreate those pipes from Fernando… If taken on songs alone, Voyage should have been a four-track EP. Then we could have said thank you for the music and meant it.”
After all these years it seems that the Swedes still have the knack of creating universal pop music, though ABBA Voyage doesn't quite please the masses.