Abba Voyage reviews: ‘Naff, naive and stuck in the 1970s’
Abba’s last studio album, The Visitors, was released in 1981, 40 years ago. Today, they have released their latest record, Abba Voyage, a triumphant return to pop music for the legendary Swedish quartet. Although fans of the group have been extremely excited about the band’s comeback, the reviews have not been very favourable.
The Telegraph’s three-star review from Neil McCormick states: “There is nothing here that strikes the pure gold seam of their classic 45s.
“Voyage is weighed down with too many portentous theatrical ballads and schlager-style romps that sound like minor off-cuts from the Seventies.”
Kate Solomon from The i gave it two stars, explaining: “There’s a sort of Sound of Music feel to the whole endeavour; a slightly daggy, overly sentimental attempt at recapturing something that had already been lost.”
And the negativity just kept coming from The Guardian.
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Reviewer Jude Rogers described the pop music romp as “naive”.
She wrote: “Rather than reflecting poignantly on the past, much of the rest of Voyage feels terminally stuck there.
“[Songwriter Björn Ulvaeus] recently said these songs were written ‘absolutely trend-blind’. It shows.
“Including tracks such as the rejected 1978 single Just a Notion (a reminder of early, jangly Abba glam, but nothing more) and Bumblebee (a naive attempt to say something universal about climate change) makes you doubt their quality control.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Abba Voyage fans, however.
The Times had a number of positive things to say about the music – despite notably describing some of the tracks as “naff” at first.
Reviewer Ed Potton declared: “Voyage is a reassuringly familiar blend of clear-eyed sentiment, outrageous musicality and utter indifference to fashion.
“Like much of Abba’s back catalogue, these songs can sound naff on first listen, yet you’re pulled in by Benny Andersson’s melodic oomph and Bjorn Ulvaeus’s eccentric lyrical insights.”
Meanwhile, The Independent gave the album a staggering five stars.
Critic Helen Brown wrote: “As composers of musical theatre, Ulvaeus and Andersson know how to craft a narrative arc.”
She also described the record as a “terrific, family-friendly smorgasbord of a record that delivers all the classic Abba flavours”.
Whether or not the reviews are favourable, fans of the band should savour Abba’s newest record, as songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus has said this is the “last time” the band will produce music.
He recently said: “I think the other three will say ‘this was the last time’.
”I’m not saying never. There is always some open door somewhere. I hate to say this is it … I’m just saying I don’t think we will record anymore.”
Abba Voyage is out now.
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