Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Polydor
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Euro-Pop
The kids in the clubs up all night on amphetamine and MDNA probably don’t believe that we actually used to dance non-ironically to pop music. More specifically, we used to dance to a famous pop group called ABBA, who were fronted by two Swedish bomb-shells, Agnetha and Frida. Irony however can be the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage, which is why Agnetha Faêltskog’s A should be taken as a straight dose.
Agnetha Fältskog faded into a quiet retirement in the late '80s, resurfacing with an autobiography in 1996 and then a collection of covers, primarily standards, called My Colouring Book, a 2004 release loosely tied into the popularity of ABBA's jukebox musical Mama Mia. Despite these projects, she never pursued a full-fledged comeback, not until 2013 when she released A, a collection of new songs written and produced by Jörgen Elofsson, that received a major multinational push. Elofsson wrote hits for Britney Spears, including the fizzy early sensation "(You Drive Me) Crazy," but the touchstone for A is his masterwork of pageantry, "A Moment Like This," the song Kelly Clarkson sang at the conclusion of the first season of American Idol.
“I never thought that I’d ever sing again. But hearing the first three songs, I just couldn’t say no!” With that, Agnetha Fältskog ends nine years of silence. A lot has been said and written about Fältskog’s supposed anxiety and isolation. Her fear of flying, exacerbated during her time with ABBA; being forced to travel by bus, only to be thrown through a window in an accident; her stage fright, and various far-flung rumours about her private life, have helped create a figure that, at times, seemed more bizarre and reclusive even than Scott Walker.
Abba must be the only band to have turned down an actual, not mythical, offer of one billion dollars to reunite and though Agnetha Fältskog released one record (2004's My Colouring Book, a collection of 60s covers) this is the first original material since the band's dissolution in 1982. Co-written and produced with teen-pop heavyweights Jörgen Elofsson and Peter Nordahl, it leans heavily on ballads and mid-tempo songs: think Annie Lennox as filtered through Swedepop but stripped of all that bounce. An Abba fan will hear that Fältskog is in strong voice; the uninitiated will wonder what 90s obscurity is being played for bar trivia night.