Forty years, and it’s as though they never left us. Following much frenzied speculation, Swedish darlings ABBA announced they were indeed returning with brand new music, a full album, and a “revolutionary” concert tour involving some creepily lifelike digital projections. “Gimme Gimme Gimme,” the fans cried, and so the band obliged.
“I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”, the first two singles released from ABBA’s forthcoming album Voyage, proves that time passes, but ABBA never go out of style. Let’s start with the tear-jerker, “I Still Have Faith in You”. Over beautifully tender piano notes we hear Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad come together in dignified harmony. “How inconceivable it is to reach this far,” they sing. “Do I have it in me?” Military drums strike up in the distance, a power guitar line plays, and cue the chorus. It is simply joyous: triumphant parps of brass, more of that epic guitar, and... wait, could it be? Do I feel the beat of the tambourine?
Then to “Don’t Shut Me Down”, opening on the ripple of a harp and swooning strings. Oh, and that piano roll! Into a boogie rhythm that shivers deliciously against a low-thrumming bassline and starry synths. Do ABBA age? “I’m not the same this time around,” they claim over trademark “ooh ooh ooh oohs”, yet it’s near-impossible to identify the slightest lapse in energy. Perhaps their voices have that touch more gravitas, but that’s to be embraced. How splendid it is to have them back.