Visitors of the ABBA museum in Stockholm buy merchandise as the new album "Voyage" marks the group's first new release in nearly 40 years.
A bouncy, synthy beat bridges the decades and brings ABBA into the present.
ABBA is back with its first album since 1981. While skeptics might ask why, the four Scandinavian septuagenarians decided why not, and
"Voyage" does nothing to tarnish their legacy as global hitmakers.
The highlight, "Just a Notion," comes midway through the 10-song set. A backbeat kicks in, followed by saxophones. The singers leap to a higher register, and pounding piano chords help the arrangement bloom. Sugar rush!
Alas, that brisk tempo is an outlier. Like most of us whose heyday was in the 1970s, ABBA has slowed down.
Ballads dominate on "Voyage," and the mood is mostly melancholy as Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad sing about relationships, Christmas, freedom and a bee. There are more tunes built for Broadway than for Eurovision, and the entire album contains fewer hooks than 2½ minutes of "Waterloo."
Even so, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus remain remarkable craftsmen as composers and arrangers, and the vocals of Lyngstad and Fältskog, now pitched lower, still blend beautifully. After more than 40 years of silence, it's nice to hear.
This cover image released by Capitol shows "Voyage" by ABBA.
Photos: ABBA through the years
Members of the Swedish pop group ABBA pose together in London on Feb. 16, 1978. From left: Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
Swedish pop group ABBA celebrates winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England on April 6, 1974, with their song "Waterloo." L-R: Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Agnetha Faltskog, and Bjorn Ulvaeus. (AP Photo/Robert Dear)
Swedish pop group ABBA is pictured during a UNICEF benefit concert in the United Nations General Assembly hall in New York, Jan. 9, 1979. From left: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
In this June 14, 1974, file photo, members of the Swedish pop group ABBA, Benny Andersson, back left, Bjorn Ulvaeus, back right, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, front left, and Agnetha Faltskog, are shown. (AP Photo)
In this file photo dated Nov. 5, 1982, Swedish pop group ABBA are pictured at the Dorchester Hotel in London, with from left: Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Bjorn Ulvaeus. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin, FILE)
Swedish rock group ABBA performs on the public television show "Wonderama" at WNET-TV in New York City on Oct. 21, 1976. Left to right are, Benny Anderson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaesus. (AP Photo/Lainie Wilser)
In a gaming mood at Crockford's Club, Carlton House Terrace, London, the Swedish pop group ABBA sit at a roulette table holding chips, Feb 12, 1978. From left: Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Bjorn Ulvaeus. (Press Association via AP Images)
Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog of the Swedish pop group ABBA are pictured at New York's WNEW-TV studios, Oct. 21, 1976. (AP Photo/Lainie Wilser)
Members of the pop group ABBA pose together at their hotel's Japanese garden, March 14, 1980. From left: Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Foltskog, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Women in traditional Japanese dress are unidentified. (AP Photo/Tsugufumi Matsumoto)
ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Foltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, left to right, perform before 10,000 fans in Tokyo, March 13, 1980. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)
Swedish pop group ABBA are pictured during rehearsals for the "Olivia! TV Special," with fellow pop stars Olivia Newton-John, right and Andy Gibb, background left, May 1, 1978. From left: Benny Andersson, Andy Gibb, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, unidentified, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Olivia Newton-John. (AP Photo/George Brich)
Bjorn Ulvaeus, right, and Anni-Frid 'Frida' Synni Lyngstad, of the Swedish pop group ABBA, sit by their outfits from the 1974 winning Eurovision song contest performance of 'Waterloo' in Brighton, at the ABBA World exhibition in Earls Court London, Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Caricature puppets of the members of Swedish pop group ABBA that were used in a music video, at the AbbaWorld exhibition in Earls Court London, Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Agnetha Faltskog, from the Swedish pop group ABBA, sing during the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest at the Brighton Dome in England on April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear)
The Swedish pop group ABBA is featured on a campaign poster against drinking launched by the state-owned monopoly for alcoholic beverages, in Stockholm, May 4, 1982. The word "white" in the text also means "Non-Alcoholic." Clockwise, from top: Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog. (AP Photo)
Bjorn Ulvaeus, left, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, of the pop group ABBA, pose on the red carpet for the band's International anniversary party at the Tate Modern in central London, Monday, April 7, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP Images)
In this frame taken from Associated Press Television News, Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA talks on May 13, 2016. (APTN via AP)
Members of the pop group ABBA, from left, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Foltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, appear in Tokyo on March 14, 1980.
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