Fans should have faith in ABBA’s ‘Voyage’


Courtesy of Baillie Walsh/PA

ABBA will perform on stage during their 2022 “Voyage” tour using “ABBAtars”, digitally rendered versions of themselves from 40 years ago.

Kristen Su, Co-Managing-Editor

Forty years apart from one of the best-selling musical acts of all time leaves much to be desired. But ABBA steps up to the challenge, and while they may not believe that an “Ode to Freedom” is “worth remembering”, the band themselves are worth celebrating.

ABBA consists of members Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Fältskog. They first rose to fame in 1974, following their Eurovision win for Sweden. Released on Nov. 5, 2021, “Voyage” is their comeback album after the band split up in 1982.

Even ABBA themselves didn’t plan on coming back, but inspired by the uptick in TikTok popularity and the recording of “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”, the band decided to give it another go.

“Voyage” wholly succeeds in its mission—proving that there is still potential for more. ABBA approaches music-making with a renewed sense of maturity, as can be seen in their lyrics, while much of the band’s classic pop-disco-synth sound fills the album with upbeat melodies.

The band’s most important statement comes in the form of “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”. Both songs elicit nostalgia in a musical sense while looking to the future in a lyrical sense. 

In “I Still Have Faith in You”, the melody questions, “Do I have it in me?” only for the entire harmony to affirm that yes, “we do have it in us”. The usage of hypophora in the song serves to reaffirm that the band has it in them to continue as they re-enter this chapter of their musical journeys together. The familiar buildup of piano and triumphant vocal harmonies is a nod at their past, as they pledge to remain together in the future, facing challenges as “we” rather than “I”. 

But while ABBA has chosen to put their faith in one another once again, they have yet to gauge the public’s reaction to their return. “Don’t Shut Me Down” is a familiar disco tribute to an uncertain future. They plead to their fans to give them another chance, singing about a “dream within a dream that’s been decoded” and telling their fans, “don’t shut me down”. Armed with the support of their fans and loyalty to one another, ABBA shows they are ready to take on the future.

“Keep an Eye on Dan,” however, showcases a different side of the band’s prowess. Rather than continuing with the theme of hope, much like the rest of the album, the storyline follows the emotions of a woman after losing partial custody of her son during a divorce. With ominous vocals that fail to resolve to a climax, ABBA conveys angst in a manner that’s different from the mainstream. Rather than screaming and crying, the sad acceptance of reality kicks in, creating a more mature portrayal of grief. 

Ulvaeus and Andersson surprisingly showcase their talents the most in “Ode to Freedom”—by writing about the hypothetical. The song is a contradiction in itself, with the melody thinking “that freedom is/More than just a word,” while later admitting that “it’s elusive and it’s hard to hold”. While the melody defers the responsibility of writing an “Ode to Freedom” onto someone else, the song itself almost feels like an “Ode to Freedom”—majestic strings instrumentation fills the background, making the listening experience almost euphoric.

Despite displaying a similar theme of hope backed by upbeat vocals and instrumentals in many of their songs, ABBA continues to bring the same joy that first drew viewers into their songs, while also showing a darker side of the happiness that is usually displayed in other songs. “Voyage” proves itself as a set of anthems that everyone can relate to, taking an optimistic view of the band’s future, as well as our own. Their upcoming music releases are definitely something to look forward to.

Fans of ABBA from the past should definitely take the time to revisit this album, while new fans who are drawn to this album should check out past hits such as “Waterloo”, “Mamma Mia”, and “Voulez-Vous”.