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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 9-3-21 – 9-9-21, ABBA’s “I Still Have Faith In You/Don’t Shut Me Down” Reviewed

ABBack After 40 Years

You can’t go home again although Abba are taking a voyage and fast forwarding through two movies and two musicals (if you include “Chess”) to return to a place where their forward thinking 70s synth pop with wonky lyrics lives again.

Yesterday, ABBA announced a show of sorts at Wembley Stadium for seven concerts starting May 27th, 2022, using youthful avatars and a live ten piece orchestra they plan to perform without leaving their homes and, equally if not even more exciting, dropped two new songs. “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Out” off a November 5th album release.

Both songs are middle of the road ABBA, neither one a “Mamma Mia” or a “Take A Chance On Me” and yet both on a par with, say, “Thank You For The Music”. Or the real avatar here, “Winner Takes It All”. From the press release: “It’s been a while since we made music together, almost 40 years, actually. We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to The Visitors. To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!”

“Don’t Shut Me Down” is a two part harmony from the As, a synthy bouncer that is too close to a plod, and the real keeper, “I Still Have Faith In You” is a nostalgia dream of resurrection where the past merges with the balance of the present in an orchestrated song the Bs could have slipped into “Chess”. It is the one that will remind you of the ABBA of “The Winner Takes It All” where its bigness is sad and yet illuminating of the passing of time.

This is all very, er, weird not wonderful. Imagine if the Beatles returned with “Baby, I’m A Rich Man”: -a good song, no doubt, but after fifty years hardly earth shattering. ABBA, the top pop band of the 1970s, have done just about that and with about as much success.

Grade: B

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