Photo By: Noah Nickel via Apple Music
The last time ABBA released an album was 40 years ago. That is, until last week, when they released their new album, Voyage, which captures the familiar sound of the band. In recapturing their 1970s and 80s sound though, they fail to deliver anything new or exciting. There aren’t stand-out songs like the instant classics “Waterloo” or “Dancing Queen”.
The opening track “I Still Have Faith in You” is bittersweet and rises to become a fun and upbeat opener for the album. It’s followed by “When you Danced with Me,” a joyful folky song that’s tough to resist bopping along to, it’s one of the better songs on the albums. The third track, titled “Little Things,” is a Christmas song with sickly sweet lyrics and underwhelming accompaniment that serves as tacky wallpaper to a generally disappointing song.
“Don’t Shut me Down” uses horns effectively and has a very classic ABBA sound. It was released early to promote the album and it’s obvious why it was chosen; it’s what listeners expect from ABBA (including the classic piano slide). It has had great reception, especially on TikTok. It would fit seamlessly into a Mamma Mia film or a retro dance playlist.
However, despite all the things going for it, “Don’t Shut Me Down” is ultimately just a worse version of classics like “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”.
Most of the rest of the songs are forgettable, which really is my issue with this album. Even “Just A Notion,” a very catchy and danceable track that has a very classic ABBA feel to it, does nothing new and so is just ultimately forgettable and doesn’t compare to the classics. In terms of creating a nostalgic album that captures the sound everyone is familiar with, the album is successful, but I’m not sure it creates any new staples.
It would have been nice if ABBA had brought something new to table with Voyage. Instead, it sounds like a time capsule from the 1980s. Nostalgia alone isn’t enough to make it a great album, and the few effective moments aren’t enough to redeem the rest. Though there are a couple good songs, it’s not tough to wonder if the album would be successful at all if ABBA weren’t already famous.
Overall, this album gives the feeling that it is composed of all the songs that were rejected from their previous albums. But, if you’re really itching for a handful of new ABBA songs and aren’t too concerned with their quality, then this album will do the job. For me though, as a long time fan of the band, it was a bit of a disappointment.