On with the ABBA albums now, and the fifth in the series. It doesn”t help that this was far from the most instant of ABBA’s albums so far, at least to me anyway. A bit more experimental perhaps, particularly towards the end, and I’m not completely sure that’s what I was hoping after previous poptastic efforts. But variety is the spice of life, (spice up) and it’s alright.
07 Eagle – I’m going out on a limb and thinking this is about their travels in the USA? I’m not good with symbolism so bear with me. It’s a bit of a strange one for an opener, 6 minutes long and not exactly the catchiest track. It’s got a strange sound to it, almost like a campfire folk song or something. Does make me worry a bit about the album to came, I don’t want bloated epicity like this if it’s not really going to go anywhere. It’s listenable but I struggle to think too much about it.
09 Take a chance on me – Now that’s a bit more like it, the first of this album’s big hitters. Being probably one of my longest-known ABBA tracks, I can’t help but feel I’m not going to get much more out of it, it’s too familiar. I love some of the production, even if it’s a bit tame compared to some earlier tracks. File this one near Dancing Queen, but without the second wind at the moment. LOVE it though, I just don’t need to hear it so much.
07 One man, one woman – No threesomes on the menu I guess. A bit of a despondent ballad with some gorgeous wooooooooo-harmonies, even though I find it hard to get into it. The chorus is memorable but a bit too mid-tempo, it feels a bit plodding. Again I feel like I’m damning this album with faint praise so far but I do like it, it just hasn’t so far got the magic of earlier albums.
10 The name of the game – OMG I love this. I could probably criticise this on the same basis as the other mid-tempo tracks so far, but the structure is just better. Love the sounds of the verses, bridges and choruses, all quite distinct. The harmonies are lovely too, and even weighing in at 5 minutes long it never drags for me. Definitely one of their best songs.
07 Move on – Love the intro, those pipes put me in the mind of Fernando, just such a cute sound. That spoken intro is rather cringeworthy, and against my better judgement the chorus has lovely layers to it, even if it’s not much to sing along to. Has a nice waltzy tempo to it, very nice. Probably not one I’d have a hankering for playing again any time soon, but to give them credit there’s not been anything I’ve not liked to some degree so far.
08 Hole in your soul – Finally, something up-tempo, even if it’s the token rock’n’roll number for the album that I sigh at each time. But not this time, even though it does sound horrible dated it’s got a great energy to it. Goes on a bit though, despite being the shortest track on this album.
09 Thank you for the music – Odd placing in the tracklisting, but whatever. I love that intro, such an upliftingly naff start to a lighter-waving anthem that never seemed to make it into the upper ranks of ABBA hits, despite the best efforts of Steps, B*Witched, Billie, Tina Cousins for that Brits Medley. Does feel a bit like they came up with the great chorus first but didn’t quite know how to fill the verses between though, so it’s not a MAX TRACK but we’re on the right lines. I wish I had golden hair 😦
06 I wonder – GOD this album is a bit of a BORE, I put on a track but I’ve probably heard it BEFORE. That’s certainly how I feel when I put this one on anyway. All very nice but ZZZZZzzzz. This album sounds so sad too, like all the joy from the last few albums just drained away. There is still emotion behind it, but it’s just got a whole different feel to the music somehow.
09 I’m a marionette – WTF? I don’t know where this one came from but it certainly got my attention. Very dramatic, that intro is pretty fucking special, and while it feels like it should be the soundtrack to some theatrical interpretive dance number, that chorus is rather striking. Rather manic-sounding instrumentation for the chorus, perhaps a bit OTT but I mean GOD, in an album almost devoid of big moments (though not big songs) this stands out as a very strange addition, particularly for the closing track.
So… I’m not sure about this at all, just doesn’t feel like the fun old ABBA I’ve been listening to over the last few months. Of course it’s very easy with hindsight and their history to go “ooh trouble in Paradise?” knowingly, but even a blockhead like me felt like there wasn’t the positivity showing through in the music that there used to be. I mean that’s not necessarily a bad thing, some of the best songs are about bad things, but it’s an infectious feeling and for an ABBA album it does leave me a bit disoriented. I seem to remember Super Trouper being pretty awesome so hopefully things will cheer up a bit there.
Keepers for the iPod: Take a chance on me, The name of the game, Thank you for the music, I’m a marionette.