They say that absence makes the heart go fonder but 40 years away, even for ABBA, might be pushing it. For sure, the global stage and screen phenomenon Mamma Mia has kept the flame alive, but it’s hard to recall the promise of new music from a reunited band ever having been more keenly anticipated than ABBA’s new album Voyage.
We’re going to have to wait until 5th November to hear all ten new tracks but the first two, of which Don’t Shut Me Down is the superior, are available to stream on all the usual platforms from today.
Don’t Shut Me Down is a triumph and it really is like they’ve never been away. There is so much to love: the old ABBA trick of being at once uplifting and melancholic is right on the money and when the slow, melodic opening few bars give way to a more upbeat, poppier refrain – telegraphed by the piano’s desceding glissando – we know we’re in safe hands.
In common with countless tracks from the Swedes’ heyday, Agnetha’s soprano melds and harmonises with the slightly lower register of Anna-Frid’s mezzo soprano to create something truly magical, once again the perfect complement to Benny and Björn’s accomplished songwriting. For sure, the voices may have aged a little but they remain unmistakably ABBA and no poorer for adding a layer of maturity and experience.
I don’t know whether it was the song itself or the fact that ABBA are back that brought tears to my eyes – probably a bit of both – but I do know that Don’t Shut Me Down is bordering on on pure pop perfection.
Camp classic gets gender-neutral makeover.