ABBA have today announced confirmation of their return for the first time in 40 years, with two new songs, an upcoming complete new album and, in 2022, a revolutionary digital concert spectacular.
The quartet of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid, one of the most successful pop groups of all time, have not only recorded two new songs available today, “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” but have completed an entire new album, Voyage. They worked on it together at Benny’s studio, Riksmixningsverket, in Stockholm, for release by Universal Music Group on November 5.
“I Still Have Faith In You,” which has a music video directed by Shynola, is an atmospheric, slow tempo piece that builds dramatically with harmonized choruses and rock guitar accompaniment. “Don’t Shut Me Down” also starts slowly, but soon picks up pace with an infectious beat. Both tracks have the powerful vocals and intelligent lyrics that characterized the group’s songbook in their earlier years together.
The album title mirrors the forthcoming live experience, ABBA Voyage, which will open on May 27, 2022 at the purpose-built ABBA Arena. The state-of-the-art 3,000 capacity arena will be located at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
“It’s been a while since we made music together,” say the four members of ABBA. “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!”
The concert experience will feature digital versions of ABBA which have been created after weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques, involving the four band members and an 850-strong team from George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. It marks the company’s first venture into music. Pre-registration for tickets opens at 6 pm BST tonight (2) on abbavoyage.com. Tickets go on general sale from next Tuesday, September 7.
The ABBA Voyage concert is made with the help of producer Svana Gisla (David Bowie Blackstar/“Lazarus,” Beyoncé and Jay Z for HBO, Springsteen and I); producer Ludvig Andersson (And Then We Danced, Yung Lean – “In My Head,” Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again); director Baillie Walsh (Flashbacks of a Fool, Being James Bond, Springsteen and I); co-executive producer Johan Renck (Spaceman, David Bowie Blackstar/“Lazarus,” Chernobyl); and choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE (The Royal Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, Paris Opera Ballet).
“The magic of ABBA and the herculean efforts of this whole magnificent team reaches a long-awaited milestone today,” say Gisla and Andersson. “To be able to finally share this endeavor with the world is a proud moment for us and we can’t wait to welcome you to our arena in East London, a place where we are so happy to be.”
Notes director Walsh: “I watched ABBA win the Eurovision song contest in 1974, and never did I imagine that 47 years later I would be with them on this extraordinary voyage. Life is weird and wonderful sometimes.”
McGregor reflects: “Imagine: growing up in the North of England in the 70s and learning to ballroom, Latin and disco dance to the incredible songs of ABBA. I was 8 and I was totally transported. Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with ABBA – in real life! I was about to be 50 and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of ABBA.
“We have shared many creative and joyful adventures with a bold collaborative team to make the impossible possible for ABBA Voyage: technological wizardry, state-of-the-art immersion, and entertainment innovation,” he continues. “And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves: ABBA is DANCE and always will be. See you on the dancefloor.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group, says: “From the very beginning of my career, and having had the privilege to work with them directly for many years since, it’s been a tremendous joy to be surrounded by ABBA and their music. Their boundless creativity and timeless melodies make us want to partner with them on everything they do because we know it will be simply great.”
Tickets for ABBA Voyage will be available from 10 am BST on Sunday (5) for fans who have pre-ordered the album from the official ABBA store, and from 10 am on September 6 for those who have pre-registered. General on-sale commences at 10 am BST on September 7 at abbavoyage.com.
‘Thank you for waiting’
In further comments released today about their return, ABBA add: “To all of you who patiently have followed us in some way or another these past decades: Thank you for waiting – it’s time for a new journey to begin. We simply call it Voyage and we’re truly sailing in uncharted waters. With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future. It’s not easy to explain but then it hasn’t been done before.”
Says Benny: “It’s hard to say what’s been the most joyful thing for me with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years. I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat. When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10-piece band. And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM.”
Anni-Frid adds: “Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d consider singing some more I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”
Agnetha comments: “When we got back together in the studio I had no idea what to expect…but Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”
Bjorn completes the group’s comments by saying of Agnetha and Anni-Frid: “They’re such amazing singers those two, I was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. They’re true musicians; totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The Voyage project has injected new life into us in more ways than one.”
Collectively, ABBA conclude: “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.”
Pre-order ABBA’s Voyage, which is released by Universal Music Group on November 5.