ABBA Set to Release Their First Album in 40 Years: Hear Two New Tracks, and Get a Glimpse of Their Digital Live Show

45 years ago, ABBA’s music was inescapable. 25 years ago, it had become a seem­ing­ly unwel­come reminder of the inani­ties of the 1970s in gen­er­al and the days of dis­co in par­tic­u­lar. But now, it’s revered: rare is the 21st-cen­tu­ry music crit­ic who absolute­ly refus­es to acknowl­edge the Swedish four­some’s mas­tery of pure pop song­writ­ing and stu­dio pro­duc­tion. With cur­rent musi­cians, too, nam­ing ABBA among their inspi­ra­tions with­out embar­rass­ment, the time has sure­ly come for ABBA them­selves to return to the spot­light — a spot­light that first illu­mi­nat­ed them for the world in 1974, when their per­for­mance of “Water­loo” won the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test.

ABBA’s streak last­ed until the ear­ly 1980s, end­ing in a hia­tus that ulti­mate­ly stretched out to some 40 years. Pop cul­ture has changed quite a bit in that time, but tech­nol­o­gy much more so. The band have thus put togeth­er a thor­ough­ly mod­ern come­back involv­ing not just a new album, but also a live show star­ring com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed ver­sions of mem­bers Björn Ulvaeus, Ben­ny Ander­s­son, Agnetha Fält­skog, and Anni-Frid Lyn­gstad — “Abbatars,” as Ulvaeus calls them.

Begin­ning next year, they’ll play ABBA’s hits in a cus­tom-built 3,000-seat are­na in Lon­don’s Olympic park, engi­neered to accom­pa­ny each song with their own elab­o­rate light show. Ani­mat­ed with motion-cap­tured per­for­mances by the real ABBA, their appear­ance has been mod­eled after the way the band looked in the 1970s (if not quite the way they dressed).

Titled Voy­age, this dig­i­tal ABBA expe­ri­ence will open in 2022, thus solv­ing the prob­lem of tour­ing that had long dis­cour­aged a reunion. “We would like peo­ple to remem­ber us as we were,” Ulvaeus said in the late 2000s. “Young, exu­ber­ant, full of ener­gy and ambi­tion.” But with all four now-sep­tu­a­ge­nar­i­an mem­bers still alive and able to make music, remain­ing whol­ly inac­tive seems to have start­ed feel­ing like a shame. They made their return to the stu­dio in 2018, record­ing the new songs “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” both of which will appear on the new album, also called Voy­age, com­ing out in Novem­ber. All this will bring back mem­o­ries for long­time fans, as well as pro­vide a thrilling expe­ri­ence for their many lis­ten­ers too young to have expe­ri­enced an ABBA show or album release before. But I can’t be the only mem­ber of my gen­er­a­tion won­der­ing if, twen­ty years from now, we’ll be buy­ing tick­ets for a dig­i­tal­ly re-cre­at­ed Ace of Base.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How ABBA Won Euro­vi­sion and Became Inter­na­tion­al Pop Stars (1974)

When ABBA Wrote Music for the Cold War-Themed Musi­cal, Chess: “One of the Best Rock Scores Ever Pro­duced for the The­atre” (1984)

Lis­ten to ABBA’s “Danc­ing Queen” Played on a 1914 Fair­ground Organ

This Man Flew to Japan to Sing ABBA’s “Mam­ma Mia” in a Big Cold Riv­er

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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