Abba are back with long-promised new music for the first time in almost 40 years.
But are the new songs – I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down – worth the wait?
The Guardian described the track as “two songs precision-honed to wallop emotion out of the listener (if you’re willing, that is: if you’ve always been immune to Abba’s charms, these songs won’t melt your cold heart).”
Critic Jude Rogers hailed Don’t Shut Me Down as “the even-better of the pair, hinting back at Abba’s past with a cannier slink in its step”.
However, the Telegraph was less effusive, saying: “It may be the most anticipated reunion in pop history but Abba’s comeback single is a bit of a damp squib.
“The title I Still Have Faith in You suggests a statement of intent, but the album it heralds is going to have to do considerably better to reward that faith…”
The Times was more positive, writing: “Don’t Shut Me Down is reminiscent of Abba’s most European, Schlager-style, sentimental moments — Fernando in particular.
“‘A while ago I heard the sound of children’s laughter/ Now it is quiet so I guess they left the park,’ observes Agnetha with typical Scandinavian frankness, before the song bursts into a disco beat and orchestral swells to back a tale of two old lovers seeing each other for the first time in years.
“It sounds exactly like Abba, albeit after a lifetime’s experience.”
The i paper also praised Don’t Shut Me Down as the stronger of the two new songs, saying: “Let’s face it, Abba are the masters of the piano glissando and they’re not shy about sticking them into every available stanza of this giddy disco tune, to glorious effect.
“The strings scurry up the scale and the piano zips them back down again; the harmonies, the thumping chords, the trading lines, the melancholy subject matter about coming back together to reassess after a hard break-up, and the irresistible urge to dance – it’s absolutely classic Abba.
“You might find yourself tempted to put Dancing Queen on when it ends. Don’t. Don’t Shut Me Down pales in comparison to that song’s magic, but Abba aren’t wide-eyed youths twirling at the local disco any more and Dancing Queens don’t come along every, er, decade.
“But the sheer joy of making music is evident in both songs, just as it always was even at the band’s lowest points: Abba are well and truly back.”
Abba’s new album Voyage will be released in November.