Laden with ’70s nostalgia, ballads, and smooth synths, ABBA’s “Voyage” is a throwback to the band’s heyday and a testament to their timeless influence. Their first album in 40 years, as well as their final album, ABBA released “Voyage” on November 5, 2021, produced by band member Benny Andersson and under record labels Polar Music and Universal Music Group N.V. Ahead of their concert residency starting May 27, 2022, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, “Voyage” features dual-releases “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” which premiered alongside the album announcement. The album, marked by some of ABBA’s signature sounds, feels at once nostalgic and mature. The glint of the setting sun on the horizon, “Voyage” opens the door to ABBA’s time capsule, and beckons us into the ten lush tracks inside.
While “Voyage” introduces us to an ABBA for the modern age, it crucially makes no attempt to “modernize” the band or play to musical trends. “Voyage” is confident in its ABBA-ness, from the bounce of “Don’t Shut Me Down” to the crooning playfulness of “Just A Notion” to the balladic grandeur of “I Still Have Faith In You.” Vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Frida Lyngstad’s voices have tempered and broadened, but are no less strong, with calmer tones over sugar-sweet belts. The album’s sound, matured but by no means degraded, feels like a blast from the past, a vinyl unearthed in an attic and crackling through a record player for the first time in decades. “Voyage”’s confidence in itself as a proudly ABBA album works to its benefit, revelling in disco and glossy eyeshadow amid pressures to sacrifice its heart for the sake of modern freshness or originality.
Another one of “Voyage”’s successes is its emotional balance—from melancholic ballads to cheesy but heartfelt glamour—“Voyage” doesn’t skimp on laying out a veritable banquet of ABBA’s range. Coming down from the euphoria of the sixth track, “Just A Notion,” ABBA invites to soak in the wistful and languid “I Can Be That Woman,” and follows it up with a head-spinning, electric, thumper in “Keep An Eye On Dan.” We hear echoes of ’70s and ’80s ABBA amidst their newer sounds, with 1978 album “Voulez-Vous” outtake “Just A Notion” included as the fifth track on “Voyage.” Touchingly, “I Still Have Faith In You,” an ode to ABBA’s bond that has endured despite divorces and heartbreaks, is strikingly reminiscent of “Winner Takes It All,” the band’s 1980 song detailing a break-up inspired in part by Björn Ulvaeus’ heartache during his and Agnetha Fältskog’s divorce. With piano frills and nostalgia abound, “Voyage” is a soulful, well-deserved celebration of ABBA’s past, while still new and never redundant.
A nod to the past from the window of a time capsule, ABBA’s “Voyage” brings us a much-needed dose of nostalgia, striking a balance between disco-esque glitz and a new, matured sound. The album brings us an ABBA for the 2020s, while grounded in its glam, ’70s roots—“Voyage” is confident, timeless, and as assured in ABBA’s signature style as ever. “Voyage” is also emotionally versatile, transitioning from high-energy bangers to melodic ballads without batting an eye, a sampling platter stretching from pole-to-pole of the band’s range. However, “Voyage”’s quintessential “ABBAness” also serves as the source of its greatest weaknesses. Feeling almost indebted to the idea of ABBA nostalgia, “Voyage” sounds at times like a compilation of ABBA’s greatest hits, rather than a truly original album. This weakness fades, however, upon each re-listen, each indulgent moment in piano frills and wispy flutes—it’s a nostalgia simply too delicious to put down. It is time-warped, glamorously sweet, stylishly candy-sour, and in all, a welcome 37 minutes of ABBA after over 37 years without new music. Stepping out of 1982 into 2021, “Voyage” is a triumphant victory lap through time, calling back to Earth from amongst the stars.
“Voyage” receives 4.25/5 stars for its ’70s nostalgia, emotional range, and dedication to a signature “ABBA” sound.