Ooh it’s the home stretch now, isn’t it? The penultimate album, and what a CORKER. I have gone through this a little quicker than some of their albums. Partly this is because it’s the only album of theirs (besides Gold) that I have bought, and partly because it’s rather addictive, I feel like I’ve got as much as I’ll get out of it already for the purposes of a review.
Not only does it pack in some of my all-time favourites, but the album tracks are mostly solid, and the whole thing comes in at a zippy 42 minutes. Perfect!
(Originally posted June 2011)
10 Super Trouper – An odd one, the lead track sounding a bit like they want to jack it all in. It’s a gentle tinkling melody, with some lovely oompah-pah bits. Makes the job of being a star sound like a bit of a poisoned chalice, but struggling on nonetheless. I wondered if the “you” in this means someone in particular, or “you, the fan”. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, which gives quite a unique perspective to the song. Obviously one of their big hits, and I’ve really grown to love it.
10 The Winner Take It All – Jesus, if there was ever a time to break out the 13/10s, this would be it. Dripping in tragedy and melodramatic metaphors, it would be quite easy for this to sound a bit OTT. But it’s played so straight, and you can feel every syllable. The music builds wonderfully, the lyrics are amazing, those bridges, that chorus! OMG I’m going to have to stop before I slip into an irreversible gay coma and you have to float my body off to gay Valhalla in a burning boat with a 21 glitter-cannon salute *dies*. Even Rosie Ribbons can’t destroy THIS (and by fuck, she TRIED).
08 On and on and on – How to top that? Well they can’t, so it’s time for a poppy descendant of the traditional rock’n’roll filler. There’s some semblance of a story, some clumsy drunken antics at a party, while everyone just ends up ‘rocking’. My kind of party of course… but it’s very catchy, the tempo of the verses is hypnotic, and the simple chorus sticks in your head pretty quickly.
07 Andante Andante – A more straightforward midtempo track now. Or so I thought, until I read the lyrics. Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but I’m thinking this might be about getting her off. Still, you probably wouldn’t know, the song doesn’t make a huge impact so it washes over you a bit. It’s very pleasant though, and again I couldn’t escape that chorus.
09 Me and I – I love this, naff 80s synths kick in like some Flash Gordon knock-off, and we go into a rather entertaining track about being a bit schizo. I love the gritted teeth you can hear in her voice sometimes, and that adorable chorus like butter wouldn’t melt. That synthy bit is pretty catchy too, they’ve really done their best to get the hooks out for this album. Those harmonies on the chorus are just glorious, lovely!
09 Happy New Year – I don’t get why this hasn’t been aired more, there is a well-established core of Christmas songs, but for New Year? Auld Lang Syne, and Cliff Richard even ruined that. I couldn’t remember much about this apart from the Happy NEWWW Yearrr bit of the chorus, but it’s a really sweet song isn’t it? A bit of an odd tone to it, saying you might as well DIE if you aren’t going to get on with people. I suppose the start of the 80s was a more troublesome time, and the specific dates in the lyrics might explain why it hasn’t hung around. What WAS I doing in 1989? Probably listening to Kylie, I guess not much has changed. Anyway, adorable.
09 Our Last Summer – As with many of these songs, the originals weren’t the first versions I’d heard, with this being introduced to me via the A*Teens. The verses are memorable but a bit meandering, the bridges rather sinister, but that chorus is wonderful. What was Harry’s original name then? It makes it sound like he had a sex change.
07 The Piper – OK probably the weak link in this album, but even THIS is pretty good. The whole thing is a bit folky, like a more complicated version of some medieval song (too many syllables). That rather serious sounding intro to each verse is distracting, I like it but not sure why. The chorus is just a bit iffy, I don’t know, not really feeling this one.
09 Lay all your love on me – I note that a lot of people seem to put this in their all-time list, even their best ABBA song, and so I’m sure I’ll come against some resistance not giving this a 10. I mean I like it a lot, don’t act like I hate it. It’s got a lot going for it, great structure throughout, but it’s not 100% clicking for me. I mean all the pieces are there (though the vocals on the choruses are a bit weird, “Derrrn’t gerrrr wasting your emoootions”. In fact I don’t entirely know why this isn’t a 10/10 for me, it just isn’t, don’t blame me. Blame Steps or something.
09 The way old friends do – Strange to have a live track at the end, but whatever. It’s a lovely end-of-the-night swaying drunkenly kind of song. A bit like Auld Lang Syne I suppose. A lovely sentimental track, simply arranged, with a nice simple melody. I guess that’s all you need really. Not a towering high note to go out on, but a warm fuzzy one that makes you want to go through the whole album again instead of saying goodbye.
So, in summary, a fucking great album, and beats the high watermark of (if I’m honest) “ABBA” with an almost flawless collection. I fear that may be the peak for me, as I hear the last one is a bit of an oddball that could go either way (and I only know one song off it). But suffice to say, this is STUN GORGE.
Keepers for the iPod: Super Trouper, The Winner Takes It All, On & On & On, Me and I, Happy New Year, Lay all your love on me, The way old friends do.