Abba Voyage review roundup: Critics deliver mixed verdicts on ‘naff’ and ‘sentimental’ new album

‘Voyage’ is the Swedish band’s first new release in four decades

Louis Chilton
Friday 05 November 2021 10:00
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ABBA reunites for first new album in 40 years, 'Voyage'
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The first reviews are in for Abba’s new album, Voyage – and its fair to say the verdicts are mixed.

Voyage is the first album from the Swedish pop hitmakers in four decades, and comes ahead of a new tour that will spotlight the band’s “digital avatars”.

Two songs from the album – “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” – were released back in September. Another single titled “Just a Notion” dropped last month.

One of the most enthusiastic reviews of Voyage came from The Independent’s Helen Brown, who gave the record five stars.

In the review, which can be read here, she describes the album as a “terrific, family-friendly smorgasbord of a record that delivers all the classic Abba flavours”.

The Times also had positive things to say about Voyage , with reviewer Ed Potton awarding it four stars.

Voyage is a reassuringly familiar blend of clear-eyed sentiment, outrageous musicality and utter indifference to fashion. Like much of Abba’s back catalogue, these songs can sound naff on first listen, yet you’re pulled in by Benny Andersson’s melodic oomph and Bjorn Ulvaeus’s eccentric lyrical insights,” he wrote.

‘Voyage’ on display at a record store in Stockholm

Neil McCormick’s three-star write-up in The Telegraphwas less effusive in its praise, arguing: “There is nothing here that strikes the pure gold seam of their classic 45s.

Voyage is weighed down with too many portentous theatrical ballads and schlager-style romps that sound like minor off-cuts from the Seventies.”

The i’s Kate Solomon gave it just two stars, writing: “There’s a sort of Sound of Music feel to the whole endeavour; a slightly daggy, overly sentimental attempt at recapturing something that had already been lost.”

Alternative artwork for ‘Voyage'

It also received two stars from The Guardian, whose reviewer Jude Rogers wrote: “Rather than reflecting poignantly on the past, much of the rest of Voyage feels terminally stuck there.

“[Songwriter Björn Ulvaeus] recently said these songs were written ‘absolutely trend-blind’. It shows. Including tracks such as the rejected 1978 single ‘Just a Notion’ (a reminder of early, jangly Abba glam, but nothing more) and ‘Bumblebee’ (a naïve attempt to say something universal about climate change) makes you doubt their quality control.”

Voyage is available to listen to now.

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