ABBA fans, rejoice. The four beloved Swedish heroes of ’70s and ’80s pop are back together to release “Voyage,” their first studio album in 40 years.
The album’s first singles, “Don’t Shut Me Down” and “I Still Have Faith in You,” showed promise and elicited excitement from fans, but the rest of the album feels too disorganized to have a theme and isn’t interesting enough to be eclectic.
After the band famously broke up in 1982 due to the desire to pursue solo projects, marital struggles and internal tensions, there were a few false alarms of an ABBA reunion or new album, but they eventually dissipated.
ABBA has never entirely gone out of style though, and their music has seen a small resurgence in popularity with a few viral TikTok trends. However, there’s few more effective ways to revive a fanbase than the promise of new music.
The album opens with “I Still Have Faith in You,” a distinctly ABBA-style power ballad. It’s dramatic, catchy and the layered instrumentals and soulful vocals make it swell with emotion.
The next few songs don’t pay off on the expectations the first track creates, though. “Little Things” is a pretty Christmas song, but that’s the issue — it’s not quite timely for Christmas, and it’s jarringly out of place. “When You Danced With Me” isn’t striking either and it falls flat after a fairly strong opening track.
“Keep An Eye On Dan” breaks the tone of the album more than any other track. It’s more experimental and less classically ABBA than the rest of the songs — a step out of the band’s comfort zone, but maybe they stumbled — it feels much more like a fall. The overall effect is grating at best.
“Voyage” somewhat fulfills its promise with “Don’t Shut Me Down,” which has ABBA’s distinct lyrical style.
“And now you see another me, I’ve been reloaded, yeah / I’m fired up, don’t shut me down,” almost seems like a reference to ABBA’s resurrection. They’ve reloaded and ready to start again.
“Just A Notion” and “No Doubt About It” are fun but that’s all. They aren’t as catchy as “Waterloo” or “Dancing Queen” and they aren’t as introspective as “I Still Have Faith In You.” ABBA’s two goals are usually “existential musing” or “dance away the existential musing” and this album doesn’t successfully accomplish either.
Aside from the classic pop jams, the slower heartbreak anthems “I Can Be That Woman” and “When You Danced With Me” both tell compelling stories of broken promises and relationships. Both strike an emotional chord but they’re in confusing contrast to the more poppy and upbeat tracks.
ABBA didn’t have to meet high standards with their new album — fans were likely ecstatic to get any new music at all, but they were probably hoping for something interesting. “Voyage” doesn’t entirely shut down fans’ expectations, but it comes close.
Although it isn’t entirely a disappointment, “Voyage” is hardly a triumph either. A couple of passable tracks hold up a mediocre album and the overall effect isn’t very interesting. ABBA has recorded several classics that’ll likely endure for decades to come — it’s unlikely any tracks from this album will make the list.
ABBA fans will at least enjoy “Voyage” but the album is doomed to sink.
“Voyage” can be streamed on YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify.