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Mamma Mia! ABBA returns with new album after 40-year hiatus

Voyage isn’t the only thing that’ll get fans channeling their inner Dancing Queen – next year, the Swedish music legends will be unveiling their digital avatars (aka ABBAtars).

Mamma Mia! ABBA returns with new album after 40-year hiatus

In this file photo taken on November 18, 1976 Swedish pop group Abba (from L to R) Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, is on stage, in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo: EPU / AFP)

Swedish pop sensation ABBA made a comeback on Friday (Nov 5) with their new album Voyage, nearly 40 years after they split up, with a digital avatar concert eventually planned in London.

Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid – forming the acronym ABBA – have not released any new music since their split in 1982, a year after their last album The Visitors.

After years of speculation and several dropped hints, the group finally announced the reunion and new album in September, and released the singles I Still Have Faith In You and Don't Shut Me Down.

The 10-track Voyage is not all the group will be releasing.

They will also unveil digital avatars – dubbed "ABBAtars" – at a concert in London in May, resembling their 1979 selves.

The holograms are the product of a years-long project, designed in partnership with a special effects company of Star Wars creator George Lucas. 

Repeatedly delayed by technical difficulties, then by the COVID-19 pandemic, they will finally be unveiled in May.

This file photo taken on February 09, 1974 in Stockholm shows the Swedish pop group Abba with its members (L-R) Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus. (Photo: Olle LINDEBORG / TT News Agency / AFP)


The group initially dreamed up the idea of avatars, and then the music followed suit.

By 2018, ABBA had confirmed rumours of their return to the studio and that at least two new songs were being recorded.

But great pains were taken to keep the music a secret.

"First it was just two songs, and then we said: 'Well maybe we should do a few others', what do you say girls and they said 'Yeah'," Benny Andersson, 74, explained when the album was announced.

"Then I asked them 'why don't we do a full album?'," he added.

He and Bjorn Ulvaeus, 76, have been promoting the album in recent weeks, with 71-year-old Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 75, opting to spare themselves from busy promotion schedules.

All promotion was halted for 24 hours this week after two people died at a tribute concert north of Stockholm on Tuesday evening.

In addition to the two songs released in September, a third track from the album was published in October, a modernised version of Just A Notion, originally recorded in 1978 but never before released.

The newly released songs cannot escape being compared to hits like Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, The Winner Takes It All and Money, Money, Money, but the band members are not worried about disappointing fans.

"We don't have to prove anything, what does it matter if people think we were better before?" Andersson told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

According to Jean-Marie Potiez, one of the group's most well-known international experts, age has given some of the singers a new edge.

"Agnetha and Anni-Frid's voices have lost their high notes, which is normal given their age, but they have gained in depth and sensitivity." 

"When they sing together, both of them, like on Don't Shut Me Down, it's the ABBA sound."

Despite two divorces – Bjorn and Agnetha and Benny and Anni-Frid were both married for several years – the four have remained good friends.

But Voyage, the band's ninth studio album, will indeed be their last, the two Bs of the group confirmed in an interview with The Guardian at the end of October.

Source: AFP/mm