Here we go again: ABBA returns after 39 years

The pop supergroup is releasing a new album and London concert experience.

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Manasa Gudavalli

Abba’s upcoming album “Voyage” is scheduled for release on November 5th. This would be Abba’s first release after nearly forty years. (Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Paree Chopra, Staff Writer

The Swedish pop quartet ABBA has returned after nearly four decades, with new music and a quirky performance concept. The group publicized their comeback on Sept. 2, when they introduced their upcoming album “Voyage”which will be released on Nov. 5 — and announced their virtual residency in London, set to begin in May 2022.

Group members Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus will hold concerts in a newly constructed 3,000-capacity venue in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will be called the ABBA Arena. They will perform as “ABBAtars” — digital avatars of their pre-hiatus selves, essentially de-aging themselves by 50 years. This virtual concert experience will see the group perform their biggest hits, from “Dancing Queen” to “Fernando” along with tracks from “Voyage.” ABBA has already released two singles from the album, “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” with the latter earning the group their first Top 10 single in nearly 40 years — their 20th overall — on the U.K. charts.

“I Still Have Faith In You” is a nostalgic orchestra-backed ballad which explores the group’s apprehension about reuniting in their 70s. Fältskog and Lyngstad seek comfort in the music, singing across pillowy harmonies: “Do I have it in me?/I believe it is in there/For I know I hear a bittersweet song/In the memories we share.” By the end of the song, ABBA is no longer doubtful of their capabilities, confirming that they “still have faith” in themselves. They believe in their legacy — one that has arguably touched every generation in some way. “I Still Have Faith In You” is a reminder of ABBA’s personal and professional longevity.

Conversely, “Don’t Shut Me Down” is an uptempo ’80s groove that sounds like classic ABBA. In the chorus, the group emphasizes their excitement to be back. Fältskog and Lyngstad sing soulfully and confidently, “And now you see another me, I’ve been reloaded, yeah/I’m fired up, don’t shut me down.” Combined with Andersson and Ulvaeus’ layers of twinkling pianos, disco synth melodies and distinct bassline, “Don’t Shut Me Down” is transcendent and majestic. 

It is clear why ABBA deliberately chose these singles to announce their comeback. The songs complement each other, circling around themes of doubt, self-assurance, fear and enthusiasm for the future. The production is beautiful, reminding old fans of the past but also keeping the music fresh for new and curious ears. If “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” are anything to go by, ABBA fans like myself are bound to be dancing to the beat and tearing up to the lyrics.

Contact Paree Chopra at [email protected]