Review: ABBA refuses to go silently into that good night

On Nov. 5, the Swedish pop group reunited to release its final album, "Voyage"

With “Voyage,” ABBA’s first studio album in nearly 40 years, the band provides closure for listeners despite its ever-burgeoning success.

On Nov. 5, the Swedish pop group reunited to release its final album, which singer-songwriter Björn Ulvaeus described as “the follow-up” to the group's 1981 album “The Visitors.”

Although the iconic four-piece has performed together in the past, this is its first time coming together to release new music since that album. 

Innovative as ever, the band plans to hold a virtual concert in a specially built arena, which will not only mitigate coronavirus concerns for the artists, but also keep them healthy through the physical stress of performing live shows.

The virtual concert, which has been in the works since 2016, debuts in London on May 27, 2022 and will feature digitized versions of the band members called “Abba-tars.”

The 10-track release carries an air of closure, not only for the fans, but for the band itself. With this record, there is no doubt the world-renowned group is saying goodbye to its audience.

In certain tracks, notably the opener and lead single “I Still Have Faith in You,” it is apparent how self-aware this band really is when approaching the end of its career when it sings “But I remind myself / Of who we are / How inconceivable it is to reach this far.” 

The album, specifically its songwriting, weaves between meta and storytelling. 

The tenth and final track, “Ode to Freedom,'' most obviously serves as a look into the artists' minds as members of the band as they embrace their freedom after this final project.

The title itself is enough to serve as each member’s freedom from the band, and is also the first song on the album sung by a primarily male voice.

On the more literal side of the lyricism, the track is about the songwriter thinking about writing an ode to freedom with the lyrics, “If I ever write my Ode to Freedom / It will be in prose that chimes with me.”

The album also explores storytelling with some tracks following the story of a broken relationship and its aftermath. 

The seventh track, “Keep an Eye on Dan,” sees the main character deal with the early stages of divorce and shared custody, and other tracks like “I Can Be That Woman” and “Just a Notion” see the protagonist feel the end of her relationship.

The band is no stranger to this level of storytelling, which describes daily occurrences that most anyone can relate to.

The 1981 track “Slipping Through My Fingers” is a quintessential example of the band’s habit as it tells the story of seeing children grow up and drift further from their families.

For me, ABBA has always been a comforting presence, and this album was no exception. 

My first exposure to the band, at least that I can remember, was through my first viewing of the 2008 Meryl Streep classic “Mamma Mia!” Since then, I was immediately drawn in by the catchiness, power and emotions of the music. 

The compilation album “ABBA Gold” became a staple in my streaming rotation, and I could not contain my joy once I found a copy of it in an old CD booklet.

I can viscerally remember sobbing through the midnight premiere of “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” with the rest of the theater, since over and over again this band makes me feel waves of nostalgia in a deeply personal way that nothing ever has before.

The band itself consistently stays relevant, so putting out new music doesn’t feel like the band desperately attempting to relive its former glory.

The first “Mamma Mia!” film came out 26 years after the start of the band’s hiatus and generated enough of an interest for a sequel to come out a decade later.

Meanwhile, songs like “Chiquitita” and “Slipping Through My Fingers” have been recently going viral on TikTok, sparking videos that carry the same nostalgia the songs provide.

The final album provided a sense of growth for everyone involved — listeners and creators alike. 

Despite not having the opportunity to experience this band during its height, the growth of the artists from their peak to their farewell has been so evident through the music they provide – and I cannot help but to have felt it myself. 

All I can possibly have left to say is “thank you for the music, for giving it to me.”


Reach the reporter at sbalas44@asu.edu and follow @sophiabala1101 on Twitter.

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