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Mamma Mia! ABBA are Back!

By Shelly Ridenour |

ABBA lovers, and even some ABBA haters, can agree that the groups latest album 'Voyage' is definitely worth a listen. Even if it is just to see what they sound like after forty long years...

Forty years after they officially broke up, ABBA are back. Although sometimes it felt like they never really went away, thanks to the Mamma Mia! musical and movie, as well as the band's prominent placement in films like Muriel's Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and in the arsenal of every wedding DJ. Of course, the world can be divided into two camps: ABBA fans and ABBA haters. And fans, Voyage is a wonder. (And haters: What, you hate heaven-sent harmonies?)

Just a Notion is just glorious —as feel-good as Waterloo. Originally recorded in 1978, while the Swedish foursome were making their Voulez-Vous album, it was inexplicably cut despite its joyous handclaps and sax and piano. (It's not a bad thing to say this would be perfect for a Richard Simmons workout.) Don't Shut Me Down struts to a high-stepping marching beat and funky double bass, as Agnetha Fältskog—sounding pretty freaking incredible for 71—tells an old lover she wants to come home now that she's gotten her groove back: "Once these rooms were witness to our love/ My tantrums and increasing frustration/ But I go from mad/ To not so bad in my transformation." It's weird and wonderful... the kind of thing that could win Eurovision (which, of course, ABBA did in 1974).

The irresistible hooks and soaring chorus of No Doubt About It should make bands five decades younger jealous. The epic ballad I Still Have Faith in You, meanwhile, finds Anni-Frid Lyngstad singing in a surprising, and striking, lower register. The song could be the cousin of Fernando and builds to a chorus as majestic as any hair-metal weeper. There's an original Christmas carol - Little Things, and When You Danced With Me, a gleeful folk-ish number that wouldn't have been out of place in a dancing scene from the horror movie Midsommar. With a few instrumentation tweaks, I Can Be That Woman could be the kind of Nashville Sound countrypolitan ballad Lynn Anderson would've crooned: "You say you've had it, and you say 'Screw you'/ I say 'I love you' and I know it's true" go the lyrics, chronicling a lifetime of regrets and the pledge to be better.

Speaking of country— Keep an Eye on Dan tackles subject matter rarely found in pop songs. Against slightly sinister strings and a funky bass that recall the "gotcha" scene of any '70s crime show unspools a story that seems to be about a divorcée reluctant to leave her son with his dad for the weekend: "Keep an eye on Dan … he gets out of hand if you let him … I'll be back on Sunday to get him." (The wild synths suggest maybe little Dan is … unhinged?) Yes, it's highly processed cheese, but it really hits the spot. All 10 songs are composed by band members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus who, respectively, divorced Lyngstad and Fältskog years ago. But you'd never know that from the harmony, in every sense of the word.


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