They’re back. ABBA have returned to say farewell. Thank you for the music and so on, but now is not the time. The putrid stains of one last hurrah. But those foul stenches will mean something more to those that grew up with ABBA. Those who were actually around to remember Dancing Queen crackling through the wireless. ABBA know their audience has grown with them. They cannot move their hips like they used to, lest the operation is a facile affair. No. Voyage must provide the mixtures of the highs with the emotional outbursts of one last album. Keep An Eye On Dan one track asks of its listener. They may as well. There is no point keeping an eye on Voyage, a terribly mediocre project.
If anything, this is an album that would have benefitted from different singles. I Can Be That Woman is far stronger and sombre than the opening track I Still Have Faith in You. But that opener is the weakest of all the tracks. When You Danced With Me has all the aplomb and courage of a startled rat. At best, it is jolly folk music. Those Europop disco beats are a longing listeners may have, but will never experience here. When we last danced with ABBA, we were six shots down and four hours in. Waterloo blared through the speakers of a tinny dancefloor somewhere off the beaten path of the ordinary world. ABBA try and reclaim their disco glory, but it is tracks like When You Danced With Me that stop them. It is a simple and ineffective track, and that is the best Voyage has to offer.
Credit can be offered to the percussion and the instruments that surround the underwhelming lyrics. There is still a clean-cut production to Voyage, and while it is not inspired, it is a professional sound. It hits the right notes. It does not experiment. Why experiment with a formula that cracked out Fernando? Little Things is a hopeful example of this. It may nosedive into Christmas chart fodder, but what precedes it shows the experience of this quartet. For when ABBA work, they work well. There are rare occurrences here, little sparks of enthused art there, and they make for ample listening. Just A Notion is a delightful track, the closest ABBA gets to capturing their baroque rock style. They can outshine their contemporaries within the Europop genre because there is no one left to compete with. What else can they do, really? ABBA does not squander the chance to reclaim the throne, but they don’t try particularly hard with Voyage.
Fire it into the stratosphere. Let Voyage take a one-way trip to the stars. For in space, nobody can hear you cash in off of your nostalgic fanbase. It was nice of them to say goodbye, but they did so without much fanfare 40 years ago. Do it again. An Irish goodbye for the Swedish supergroup. Or former supergroup, rather, for there is nothing super about Voyage. There they go, slipping through our fingers one last time. Let us hope so, anyway. Voyage is fine enough. It is doubtful how well it will be remembered once the storms of modernity have calmed themselves. It is no Arrival, that is for sure. Compared to the albums that came before it, Voyage feels around for that clean break from the past yet the acceptance of it also. It is messy, but it will do.