Abba: I Still Have Faith In You/Don’t Shut Me Down (Polydor)
Verdict: Catchy, classy pop
In 2009, the British public voted Abba as the band they would most like to see reunite.
If anything, the desire for the four Swedes has grown even stronger in the years since.
So yesterday’s release of I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down – the pop combo’s first new singles for 39 years – didn’t disappoint as the curtain-raisers for a new studio album, Voyage, and virtual gigs next year.
So yesterday’s release of I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down – the pop combo’s first new singles for 39 years – didn’t disappoint as the curtain-raisers for a new studio album, Voyage, and virtual gigs next year
Anticipation for the album is sure to reach fever-pitch in the weeks leading to its arrival in November, while the digital concerts in May 2022 at London’s Olympic Park are certain to be among the hottest tickets of the year. The question is: have they still got it?
The band’s songwriters, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, are famous for spending weeks fussing over the finer points of a musical arrangement, and the two new tracks bear all the hallmarks of the pair’s painstaking studio processes, with instruments layered to form an instantly recognisable wall of sound.
The songs are model Bjorn and Benny compositions, sung with warmth and precision by Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
I Still Have Faith In You is the big ballad: a rousing ode to enduring friendship and loyalty and clearly a metaphor for this week’s reunion.
Opening with orchestral strings and Andersson’s tuneful piano motif, it ebbs and flows as more instruments gradually enter the fray.
By the end, we’ve had pounding drums, guitar and brass – and belting high notes from Agnetha and Anni-Frid, their reach and power seemingly undimmed by the passage of time.
The songs are model Bjorn and Benny compositions, sung with warmth and precision by Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad
Abba’s ballads – The Winner Takes It All being the benchmark – were often melancholy affairs… but this one is positively uplifting.
Don’t Shut Me Down offers a contrast. A more up-tempo track that mixes Euro-disco with a touch of traditional German schlager music, it’s a classic Abba party tune.
In typical fashion, the buoyant melody hides a sad lyric about a woman, sitting alone on a park bench at dusk, determined to turn over a new leaf and rescue a fading romance.
When Abba were last active, in the early 1980s, they were chasing trends. Now they may be setting the agenda.
This vintage one-two suggests the Scandinavian super-troupers are back to doing what they do best: catchy, classy pop.
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