After nearly four decades, ABBA is back with new music and huge announcements.
To the excitement and delight of their fans, the Swedish pop quartet revealed their return in a live-streamed press conference this past Thursday, Sept. 2. The announcement included the promise of an upcoming ten-song album and concert series.
“ABBA are back with #ABBAVoyage, a brand-new album and revolutionary concert,” their announcement on Twitter states. “We are on our way back! Thank you for waiting.”
The album, titled Voyage, is scheduled to release Nov. 5. Tickets for the concert, which will kick off late May 2022, will be available for purchase Sept. 2.
Strangely enough, ABBA—made up of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson—will not technically be performing in what is being called their “concert experience.” Instead, they say in a tweet that “the band have been digitized using state-of-the-art motion capture technology.” The four singer/songwriters tugged on the same motion detection suits used to create CGI in movies, performed their routine on camera, and have been turned into digitalized avatars reminiscent of their younger selves. These “ABBA-tars” and a ten-piece live band will perform nightly at the brand-new, purpose-built ABBA arena in London.
“Agnetha, Frida, Benny, and Bjorn got on stage in front of 160 cameras and almost as many VFX geniuses,” said producer Ludvig Andersson, “and they performed every song in this show, to perfection, over five weeks… So when you see this show, it is not four people pretending to Abba, it is actually them.”
“We’re truly sailing in uncharted waters,” said Benny Andersson. “With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future.”
Thursday’s announcement also came with the release of two new songs: a piano ballad titled “I Still Have Faith in You” followed by the theatrical “Don’t Shut Me Down.”
The first of the new releases “had to be about us,” said Ulvaeus at a launch for Voyage. “It’s about realizing that it’s inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination could dream up that, to release an album after 40 years and still be the best of friends, and still be enjoying each other’s company, and have a total loyalty.”
With 400 million records sold, the group has long since earned its status as legendary. Their music has been featured on Broadway stages and movie screens, leading them to become something of a cultural phenomenon. The cult classic Mamma Mia! (2008) movies, starring big names like Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Amanda Seyfried, revolve around ABBA’s music entirely. Songs such as “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” have become household names, further cementing the group’s superstar status even years after their last releases.
ABBA broke up in 1982 after strains in relationships between the members—the group was made up of two couples who both divorced within a year of the other—and the release of their tension-filled last album, 1981’s The Visitors. Andersson and Ulvaeus went on to write numerous more works, sometimes even together, but when asked in 2014 if the group would ever perform again, Lyngstad said: “We only have one answer and that is no.”
That sentiment has obviously changed, and ABBA is gearing up for a reunion nearly 40 years in the making with a renewed gusto.
“We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio,” the group said concerning the reunion. “So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”
“The Voyage project has injected new life into us in more ways than one,” Ulvaeus said. “So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the ‘ABBA Arena’ and yes—see—because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”