ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ is an unexpected but welcome 40-year reunion for the iconic Swedish group

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Bennett Purser

A collection of CD covers from ABBA is displayed. They’re one of the most successful and beloved pop groups in the history of music. Photo by Shutterstock.

After nearly 40 years, ABBA is back with a new album that’s already number one on iTunes. “Voyage” is filled with the same joyous pop that cemented the band in music history. For decades, fans wondered if they would ever reunite. By the early 1980s, the band’s two couples had both divorced, and over the years, they stated a reunion would never happen. 

And although a reported $1 billion deal wasn’t enough to sway the band out of retirement, the chance to return to the stage was the winning hand for the Swedish superstars who are now in their 70s, says Slate music critic Carl Wilson

“ABBA [is doing this as a] final gesture towards their fan base and reaching out to people who never got a chance to see them live in their 1970s heyday. They thought, ‘Well, if you're doing a live tour of sorts, you usually have an album to go along with it.’ And so they tested the waters and decided that they were enjoying making music together again, and ‘Voyage’ is the result,” Wilson tells KCRW.  

The live show will be held at the ABBA Arena in London, England, starting in May 2022. Built specifically for the concert series, it utilizes motion capture technology that will project “ABBAtars” of the band members in their younger years.

“They don't think that the fans want to see a bunch of 70-year-olds up there in spandex and feathers, playing ABBA tunes. So they want to present themselves using their faces from the time when they were together in their 20s and early 30s,” he says. 

Wilson says that the record — despite some early missteps, including an attempt at a sexy Christmas song — is surprisingly good. 

“After those rocky couple of tracks, it hits the fourth track called, ‘Don't Shut Me Down,’ which really is a great encapsulation of everything that made ABBA ABBA. It has that kind of yearning, Swedish melancholy in the verses. And then this sort of huge disco-rific, Dancing Queen-esque chorus. That really captures, in three minutes, all of the greatness of ABBA.” 

He adds, “A lot of the tracks are also a little bit weird, the way that a lot of ABBA music really was.”