The new ABBA album tells stories of melancholy and joy – but matured over time

The new ABBA album tells stories of melancholy and joy – but matured over time

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And from opening track I Still Have Faith In You it’s clear Benny Andersson has lost none of his ability to blend melancholy and joy into hugely melodic songs that are instantly accessible and indisputably ABBA. Norwegian-born Frida’s lead vocals, sweetly backed by Agnetha’s harmonies, suit the ballad perfectly, and if Bjorn’s lyrics are slightly hackneyed, they still fit the mood. When You Danced With Me is sprightlier, a mid-tempo delight with a folky, Caledonian feel.

Little Things is a softly beautiful festive song with a children’s choir, about Christmas morning and stockings full of treats. And not just toys.

‘Your naughty eyes’ are in there too: ‘You’d consider bringing me a breakfast tray but there’s a price…’ Don’t Shut Me Down feels like Fernando. It starts slowly with Agnetha singing about the past, before exploding into a breezy middle-of-the-road disco belter – complete with keyboard glissando – about two old lovers meeting for the first time in years. Just A Notion is perky pop straight out of the 1970s with lush orchestral swells.

A mother hands over her son to her ex for the weekend in Keep An Eye On Dan.

And I Could Be That Woman is a relationship lament with a country feel.

The words tell a story of what might have been and still could be: ‘You’re not the man you should’ve been/I let you down somehow/I’m not the woman I could’ve been/But I can be that woman now’.

There’s maturity in these lyrics and musical surprises too, such as the Celtic sting to Bumblebee.

The album ends on a high with the wistful, waltz-like Ode To Freedom.

Ten songs. No duds. Pure pop.

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