Album Review


Because of shrewd business acumen, ABBA will never reform out of monetary desperation. And because of the perfectionism of guiding lights Andersson and Ulvaeus, the quartet only committed air-tight commercial concoctions to tape, thus it seems the only unreleased music we'll get from the legendary Swedes are extras like the early version of "Thank You for the Music" included on this rerelease of the Album. Otherwise, hungry ABBA afficionados get some cool packaging and one of the band's finest long-players, recorded at a commercial and artistic zenith. Employing a faux-generic marketing scheme (ABBA-the Movie opened concurrently), each track unfolds like a jingle for perfect pop. The soaring "Eagle," a Jonathan Livingston Seagull nod, starts the record in magnificent style.  The complex confection "Name of the Game," inspired by the laid-back West Coast vibe of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, hit the heights of the charts and will live forever, although in the shadow of the timeless studio art displayed in "Take a Chance on Me," where the boys chug along in the background. Wisely acknowledging the attention span of their audience, the male maestros limit their first mini-musical to the last four tracks which concern a young, small-town girl trapped by her own fame. A common theme (tight rocker "I'm a Marionette" echoes Mott the Hoople's "Marionette"), but no other artist pumped up the bubble machine like the aforementioned glitter twins, and with the delectable voices of the chipper Agnetha and Frida out in front, ABBA proves unstoppable, even when dealing in such pretentious claptrap. The band glides through this ambitious experiment on a nitrous oxide cloud. Few acts could pull the Album off, but ABBA was a phenomena entirely self-contained, built from the insular talent of four gifted and savvy pop architects. The energy here never slows, whether the men take the mic, or just let the ladies do their thing. The critics sneered, as ABBA continued to sell mass units, defining a lush legacy of brilliant music that continues to influence and endure.

-STONE, Cheap Trash NYC
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