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The Visitors

ABBA

1981

The Visitors

Album Summary

The Visitors is the eighth studio album by Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released on 30 November 1981. With The Visitors, ABBA took several steps away from the "lighter" pop music they had recorded previously and the album is often regarded as a more complex and mature effort. The opening track, "The Visitors", with its ominous synthesizer sounds and the distinctive lead vocal by Frida, announced a change in musical style. With Benny and Frida going their separate ways, the pain of splitting up was explored yet again in "When All Is Said and Done". The major hit single on the album, "One of Us", also depicted the end of a love story. Elsewhere there were Cold War themes—highly topical at the time—and further songs of isolation and regret. The Visitors was one of the first records ever to be digitally recorded and mixed, as well as one of the earliest in history to be pressed on the CD format in 1982 as, in terms of commercial release dates, it was predated by the Japanese release of Billy Joel's 52nd Street. The Visitors has been reissued in digitally remastered form four times—first in 1997, then in 2001, again in 2005 as part of The Complete Studio Recordings box set and most recently in 2012. The Visitors Deluxe Edition was released on 23 April 2012. As with previous releases in the Deluxe Edition series, this version offered a DVD of archive material along with CD bonus tracks – including the demo medley "From a Twinkling Star to a Passing Angel", the first previously-unreleased ABBA recordings since 1994.For four decades, The Visitors stood as ABBA's last studio album, until the release of their 2021 album, Voyage.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.16

Votes

5844

Genres

  • Pop
Reviews
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Wed Jun 23 2021
5

“The Visitors” by ABBA (1981)   This one stopped me in my tracks. I was predisposed to dismiss ABBA as mindless pop (which is not to say I haven’t listened to “ABBA Gold” countless times). But this album is much better than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of silliness in the arranging. It’s still ABBA. But this collection demonstrates a maturity in their musical sense that is more fitting for their undeniable vocal talents. Here we have pioneering digital recording with tasteful backing instrumentals, making good use of ‘instants of silence’ that have now become commonplace in recorded music. Full use of 32-track mixing.  And the vocal arrangements for which ABBA became famous (or infamous) now display a willingness to step outside the conventional. Moreover, the lyrics reflect depth, cultural sensitivity, and insight into horrifying geopolitical realities—from a Swedish [!] perspective. It gets better the more I listen.  For an example of ABBA’s insight into the international scene: “The album's title track [“The Visitors”], according to [ABBA songwriter] Ulvaeus, refers to the ‘secret meetings’ held against the approval of totalitarian governments in Soviet-dominated states.”  [Wikipedia, “ABBA”] Poland? East Germany? Czechoslovakia? Hungary? Puppets of the Soviet KGB were ”The Visitors”. And they were not amused by your ‘secret meetings’. So musically, is this how it felt in 1981 when the Stasi came around?  (Or the FBI after you used a credit card to make a 1/6/21 trip to D.C.?) And the fourth track, “Soldiers” gives evidence of a political awareness that is apt for 1981–a moment in time when the less powerful western European nations began to tell the bullying Soviet Union “Enough is enough”. With the 1989 destruction of the Berlin Wall, this crisis had a temporarily good outcome before it got screwed up again in the early 21st century, but it’s inspiring nostalgia nonetheless. “‘Cause if the bugler starts to play, we too must dance.”  NATO was not then a paper tiger, even if it seems to be today. I wonder if Taiwan has a ‘pop’ group like ABBA . . . [Full disclosure: This reviewer is a veteran of the Cold War.] Less politically, the verses in “I Let the Music Speak” have melodic lines with difficult vocal intervals, skillfully executed by lead singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad, with extraordinarily creative orchestral arrangement.  Theatrical, transcendent, sweeping.  “One of Us” is a well developed song of sadness, anticipating and executing the end of a failed relationship. The third listen brought a tear. Is the “us” the man and the woman, or the two persons within the woman?  You tell me.  “Two for the Price of One” is back to more gimmicky ABBA silliness, with a hilarious ending that can be taken in more ways than one, which adds to the humor.  And anyone who’s raised a child will be drawn in to “Slipping Through My Fingers”.  “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” is simply beautiful—melancholic, evocative, poetic, symphonic, expansive. It is reportedly the inspiration for the cover art.  I’m going to stop writing now, and just listen.  5/5

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

There are two types of people in the world. Those who love ABBA, and those who pretend they don’t love ABBA. I thought I was in the latter category, but this album makes me think I’m in the former. This is the first album of theirs that I listened to fully, not just the hits. I have to say it’s fantastic. I would love to listen to this again at some point.

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Mon Nov 01 2021
2

I think I managed 4 songs before the wave of pop nausea overcame me. Like aural Kendal Mint Cake.

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Mon Feb 01 2021
2

Opzich wel een goed album van ABBA, maar toch wel een hoog boomer gehalte

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Fri Sep 18 2020
5

My favorite ABBA album thank youuuuu

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Sun Jul 11 2021
5

One of the better ABBA albums, but it may be because I just like ABBA. I might be biased because I'm gay, but it's just one of those things. I love how the album comes together and her voice is something that I can never turn down. The orchestral touches to this album are also quite nice. Highlights: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
4

I never give ABBA enough credit and dismissed them because they are so popular. But they are popular for a reason.

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Wed Apr 28 2021
4

I like this less than Arrival, but I really love Abba so I'm having a great time.

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Tue May 18 2021
4

ABBA write some of the best pop songs out there

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Sun Nov 14 2021
4

Pop de Abba. A veces parece un músical.

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Sat Feb 20 2021
3

Don't think I've heard a whole ABBA album before, only heard the singles. The first track is very different from what I'm used to from them and I really like it. Almost like a Gary Numan feel to it at points. Second track kinda breaks the mood and is closer to what I'd expect. The slight Swedish accent is kinda endearing. Very clean and spacious sounding. As this is goes on, nothing is living up to the promise of the first track and it kinda goes downhill for me. "Two for the price of one" is a runner up though. Listening to the deluxe edition and I definitely like some of the b-side bonus tracks more than most of the album tracks, especially "I am the city" and "you owe me one" - way more fun and infectious.

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Mon Sep 20 2021
3

Tried listening to this objectively rather than just dismissing as int'l pop. First, the synths for 1981 are excellent! It's hard to put in context that synths didn't really penetrate pop music until the very late 70s and early 80s. Even then, they were mainly reserved for Prog Rock and Punk/New Wave. ABBA's earlier albums were more BeeGees disco, while this sounds more like Ultravox's Vienna. So, credit goes to ABBA for bringing 70s soft rock together with disco beats and polyphonic synths. Some experimentation with genres here and there. Harmonies are strong. Melodies and lyrics are often cheeky, but let's give them the benefit of singing in a second-language. Never heard "One of Us," which is the most played song on Spotify. I'll chalk that up to the continental listeners. Only song I recognized was "Cassandra," and that's fairly complex with almost a waltz beat. So this one doesn't have all the popular hits, but maybe that's why I liked it a bit more than I had expected.

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Wed Oct 20 2021
3

Not abbad albbum

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Sat Oct 30 2021
3

The ABBA album that didn't get hammered into the Australian psyche. Beautiful in parts it heralds Benny & Björn's shift to musicals. The album is hampered by some of sameness between some songs and feels flat in places

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Tue Sep 28 2021
2

It was pretty much over for ABBA by 1981, and this album doesn't do anything to dispute that fact. They seem to just be going through the motions at times. The magic of "Dancing Queen" is but a memory. "One Of Us" is the only real standout here, and it just underlines the fact that both couples, along with the band, were no more.

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Tue Oct 26 2021
2

ABBA is definitely not in my wheelhouse. Was kind of dreading this. Then I heard the synths at the beginning of the first song and started reading the wiki article that this was a change in direction for them. That gave me some hope that it might be more interesting... but no, it's still syrupy sweet pop music. I mean, it's not unlistenable and I can appreciate that it might be perfect pop music for some people. It's just really not for me. "I Let the Music Speak" was particularly difficult to get through. So slick and overproduced. At least it was only 37 minutes long. But this isn't offensive to me. ABBA are what they are and they have no pretensions about being a pure pop group. A 1 for me personally but bumping up to a 2 in recognition that this is really just not my type of music and it's probably not that bad.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
2

One stand out track. Poor album. Not worthy of the list.

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Tue Mar 02 2021
5

Definitely not what I expected, much sweeter and passionate tone than a lot of abba stuff because it feels more personal

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Thu Jan 28 2021
5

Una ópera pop en donde todo te suena, porque los has escuchado por todas partes sin darte ni cuenta. Qué sería de todos nosotros sin ABBA...

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

ABBA 4 lyfe

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

ABBA bringing me all the feels.

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Sun Jul 11 2021
5

It's just more ABBA. Which is a great thing in of itself. There's really not much to complain about in this album as it's a fantastic pop album. It's got a nice, powerful bass and synth chords that'll make you swoon. In addition, classic ABBA chorus is there. Favorite track: The Visitors

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Wed Jun 23 2021
5

Perfect album if you discount 'One of Us'

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Clean, pop perfection.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

I fuckin love ABBA

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

This would've been the perfect swan song had ABBA not made a comeback this year. Easily their best album

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Already listened to this album in full before. I enjoyed it a lot but there are some tracks that I don't revisit as much. My favourites are Head Over Heels, One Of Us, When All Is Said and Done, Slipping Through My Fingers and The Day Before You Came. 4.5/5 stars but will bump it up to a 5.

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Sat Oct 30 2021
5

I'm so happy this is on the list! Anyone who thinks they know ABBA and haven't heard THE VISITORS have missed a major part of the ABBA story. This was their last album before their long hiatus. It was crafted as their group and their relationships were coming apart. Through it all every song sparkles with incredible craftsmanship, creativity and variety. The cover art shows the group dramatically shadowed entirely separate staring in different directions. It's a dramatic cover and a clear signal that this album will be a bit different... and maybe signaled their breakup to come. From the first notes breaking into pulsing synthesizers and Frida's dramatic delivery there is a clear change in tone over previous ABBA releases. I still get chills hearing it. "The Visitors" is a driving, paranoid opening with a great beat. ABBA can paint detailed, interesting images and tell such vivid stories in their songs, and “Head Over Heels” is one of many examples of this. "When All Is Said And Done" brings the breakups the group were navigating at the time to the surface. It's a great song that captures a level of maturity we should all strive for when our relationships end. "Soldiers" addresses the seriousness of war and is one of my favorite songs on the album. "Soldiers write the songs that soldiers sing the songs that you and I don't sing." This remains a bit too applicable to the 21st century filled with war that went on for decades while most of us paid little attention. "I Let The Music Speak" is a tribute that shows the appreciation of music itself, a subject ABBA visits often. This song clearly foreshadows later work Benny and Bjorn would do writing the musical Chess. "One Of Us" is a heartbreaking song of the ambivalence that accompanies breakups made even more impactful when considering the circumstances of the group performing it. Such a powerful expression of regret. Things get a little lighter with "Two for the Price of One" where ABBA shows off their cheekier side in the story of a lonely man who answers an ad and gets more than he bargained for. Another exceptionally crafted song that tells a fun, delightful story. "Slipping Through My Fingers" beautifully captures the feelings of a parent seeing their daughter grow up. Really amazing song. "Like an Angel Passing Through My Room" is the last song on the original album and is a beautiful, meditative, wistful ending to the album. I love this song so much. The extra tracks released over the years have been a treat, some of them better than others. "Should I Laugh Or Cry", "Cassandra", "Under Attack", and "The Day Before You Came" are among my favorites of the new tracks. They've been some sustenance over the years... I also enjoyed the inclusion of "From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel" on the Deluxe Edition that gives a peek into the evolution of a song. For newcomers, though, the album has more impact with its original ending. I have loved Abba since buying the Super Trouper album back in 1981 and remained a huge fan even as most of the world moved on. Abba has created some of the greatest pop music ever so it is a great relief that they are represented on this list. There are still plenty of music snobs who ignorantly dismiss ABBA without ever considering the intricacy of their arrangements or the emotional depth in these songs. I'm glad to see much of that has faded away. For me personally this is a particularly special opportunity to opine on THE VISITORS as part of this project a week before the release of their next new studio album - 40 years later! I am thrilled to share my deep feelings for this album knowing that this isn't their last and that ABBA will continue to enrich us with new music.

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Sat Oct 30 2021
5

I am a fan of ABBA, and I wasn't actually familiar with this album. I loved it...A LOT!

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Sat Oct 30 2021
5

The first cassette I ever bought for my new tape recorder was ABBA Greatest Hits Vol. 2 with money from Christmas 1979 in 6th grade. My mom helped me pick it out. I listened to it a billion times as I couldn't afford many other tapes and thus ABBA was my jam. When "The Visitors" came out in 1981 no expense was spared and I excitedly bought the new album (on cassette, of course). I remember being taken aback somewhat by the different tone of this music, which was a little less infectious than the compilation. The opening title track had a long, moody introduction, for example...but then 2 minutes in...oh yeah! Like a number of the songs on this album it has a cool build-up and transition. "When All is Said and Done" is a favorite and is the song that sounds the most classic ABBA, maybe, despite its theme of maturity (they were more than 15 years younger than I am now when they recorded it. Dang.) For forty years I've thought the voice on the phone in "Two for the Price of One" said "Al is waiting." It's still a fun song, nevertheless. Having listened to this album over and over in my youth, there's no way I can't love the whole thing to this day.

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Sat Oct 30 2021
5

holy shit, it’s been a while since I’ve heard an album where EVERY song slaps like a mother fucker this is a 12 out of 10, it’s honestly beyond perfect, good fucking golly

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

I think I only knew ABBA's hits, so I thought of them as super poppy, sing-along band, but still very talented. This was unexpected and such an enjoyable listen.

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Sun Nov 21 2021
5

What a vibe. So many great songs on here with a good variety of moods.

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Wed Jan 05 2022
5

Great album, full of hidden gems.

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Tue Jan 25 2022
5

idk yet

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

Great!

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

look, i wore out my parents' CD copy of Gold like any obliviously queer teenager, but damn, i've been missing out on a whole discography!

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

A ABBA album that, despite lacking huge hits and being less light in terms of lyrical content, still entertains massively and doesn't have a bad song over a great runtime of just shy of 40 minutes They never fail to bring good mood and cheer up

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Wed Feb 16 2022
5

This was surprisingly really good. I've never been a big fan of ABBA but this a major departure from their previous work.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

Pop perfection. I simply did not want this album to end. I'm a sucker for a good melody, and boy did this record deliver that in spades.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

This album is incredible. Very layered and catchy. I highly recommend it.

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Wed Feb 23 2022
5

ABBA seems only capable of doing one type of sound but that sound is wonderful.

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Tue Mar 15 2022
5

This album is so great! It really holds up!

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Fri Mar 25 2022
5

If there's one thing I know about music, it's that I fucking love Abba.

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Fri Apr 22 2022
5

abba's music is beautiful! i suppose this album isn't considered as good as their other albums, but i fell deeply in love with this album. it has everything from tender songs to their signature fun, pop-y songs. "one of us," a deeply autobiographical track, hurts me even as i sing along. "head over heels" is such a standout that it's shocking it flopped as a single. with every listen, i loved this more and more. easily five stars, with the hope more abba is on this list of albums.

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Wed May 04 2022
5

I love this album. For four decades it was ABBA's swan song and it is fantastic. Such great tunes. When All Is Said And Done is my favourite ABBA song.

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Sat May 21 2022
5

When All Is Said And Done, Cassandra, . The Day Before You Came

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Thu Jun 09 2022
5

Was sceptical about late model ABBA but this was an easy five stars. Would love to see a theatrical adaptation of this, seems very well suited to the stage. Moody and eccentric with some interesting song concepts

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Mon Jul 25 2022
5

Man, I was not familiar with ABBA's post-disco sound. This was fun!

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Mon Aug 01 2022
5

Going into this I thought this would be some shitty juvenile stereotypical synth pop, I've already heard all the praise for ABBA, but this is actually quite mature. Though this spotify link sends you to a quieter version of the song, so idk which version to listen, I went with the quieter version. I HATE IT SO MUCH IF THERE ARE MULTIPLE VERSIONS. Ok actually this is really good, idk if I should give it a 5/5 or a 4/5, maybe I'll be generous. Fuck it I'm generous. 5/5, it's a very mature and sad album. It shows the band breaking up and is a fitting end. Sike, most fans said in 2021. Yeah, 5/5.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

always a favorite

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Sat Aug 27 2022
5

Class

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Mon Aug 29 2022
5

I literally grew up on Mama Mia. I have loved ABBA since I was a tiny child. There are very few songs that make me shiver and Head Over Heels has now been added to that list.

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Wed Oct 12 2022
5

Fun songs, lots of variety

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Tue Nov 01 2022
5

Rating: 9/10 Best songs: The visitors, Soldiers, I let the music speak, One of us, Two for the price of one, The day before you came, Cassandra

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Fri Nov 18 2022
5

Wow I have been missing out with ABBA! What's up with these moody synths on the title track? Head Over Heels blew me away with its spooky, plucky synths! One of Us is a soaring, emotional masterpiece. I keep being struck by what sounds to my untrained ear like some truly inspired chord changes. What is happening! What a joy to discover this band and why did I never make an attempt to find them out before. I feel like when I watched the Ken Burns Country music documentary and heard a whole genre open up before me. As good as so many of these songs are, one stands a cut above the rest. The Day Before You Came. Sweet Jesus this is a lyrical masterpiece. Listening absentmindedly to this song the first time it is just a list of mundane everyday tasks and activities with some anecdotes atypical enough in pop songwriting to catch your attention: "I stopped along the way to buy some Chinese food to go." This Chinese food line piqued my interest, and looking up the lyrics my immediate impression was oh ok, this woman was living a boring existence before this man showed up in her life, transforming her days of watching Dallas and reading the morning paper into something unbelievably beautiful. Since the man plays such a small and mysterious role in the song, this would be an interesting enough concept on its own. But it's not the whole story, and there is more written between the lines. Why? Because if that's where it ended this would be a happy song. Instead, the vocals are tinged with sadness and there is a soft wailing over minor chords after every chorus. The narrator wouldn't be so fixated on what she used to do before the man showed up if he was still around. But he's left, and she is confronted with the lonely life she had before. For me, the saddest part of this is that she was once content with the things she used to do, but after this love, it all just seems like filler. Listening to the song with this interpretation, you hear a broken-hearted woman who is wracking her brain, retracing the steps of her life to how things ended up here, trying to piece together how she ever made it through the day at all. So much is left unsaid in this song but conveyed through Agnethaʻs gorgeous and evocative vocals. So much is left up to interpretation and speculation. It is a haunting, spellbinding song. I will cherish this song and this record. 4.6/5.

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Fri Nov 18 2022
5

Fantastic album, will definitely be diving back in frequently. Incredible musicality, melodies, and lyrics

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Thu Dec 08 2022
5

Banger after banger. Very well aged. Had so many musical components

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Sat Dec 10 2022
5

If Disco died in 1979, this feels like the elegy for the day Disco died. I honestly am baffled by how much I liked it too.

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Sun Dec 11 2022
5

Two ABBA albums almost one after the other? Love it! There's a lot of songs I've never heard on this album, so let's see. Didn't particularly like the titled song. Loads of really good songs, but some serious misses as well imo (You Owe Me One). Saved tracks: Head Over Heels, Soldiers, One Of Us, Two For The Price Of One, Should I Laugh Or Should I Cry, Under Attack, The Day Before You Came

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Mhmm.

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

This is wonderful. From the incredible title track to One of Us to best song The Day Before You Came, this is a brilliant singles band making a brilliant album. And the holograms are great too.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
4

1/22 Swedish "Devotion." Standout Tracks: When All Is Said And Done, I Let The Music Speak, Two For The Price Of One, Like An Angel Passing Through My Home

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Thu Feb 18 2021
4

Actually pretty good, I didn't know I could enjoy the overhyped ABBA

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Decent, not my type of music tho

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

I like this album more than I thought I would. 4 stars

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Wed Apr 21 2021
4

I had no idea whether to rate this a 3 or a 4- The Visitors is a great opening track, and honestly I enjoy the most of the A Side? B Side not as much. I feel like it's the low-end of 4, but yeah, fuck it, I'll give it a 4!

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Sun Mar 07 2021
4

Even on an album where it's a complete body of work, they can still write absolute rockets. 'One of us' is officially my fave ABBA tune. Wow, what a feeling listening to this band.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
4

Erittäin positiivinen kokemus. Mielikuvat ABBA:sta koostui lähinnä puhkikuulluista hittibiiseistä, mutta nämä vähemmän tunnetut biisithän toimii oikein mainiosti. Levyn hitti One Of Us on myös eräs niistä vähemmän ärsyttävistä hittibiiseistä. Tätä tulee kuunneltua toistekin.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

I hadn't heard this particular ABBA before, but I'm into it!

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Tue Mar 30 2021
4

I love ABBA, but I've only ever heard the greatest hits. Super fun to explore an album, and it ROCKS!

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

More depth than I expected; will have to revisit.

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

abba is way better than i thought

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Fri Mar 19 2021
4

The birth of pop

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

I honestly liked this way more than I expected to.

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Great

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Sat Feb 27 2021
4

Reminds me of Maddy strongly. 'One of Us'

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Mon Feb 15 2021
4

enjoyable.

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Sun Mar 07 2021
4

Yeah so a bit of Belgium craic I got really blocked with my mates a few weeks ago and did Slipping Through my Fingers on karaoke

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Tue Apr 27 2021
4

Abba goes nu-wave

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

I love ABBA

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Listened to it off and on all day. The right vibe for just about anything.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Only listened to one song, it was good.

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Fri May 14 2021
4

Geen nummers van ABBA die ze vaak op de radio spelen. Maar wel heel herkenbare sound. Heb er wel van genoten

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Fri May 14 2021
4

Nooit gedacht dat ik een volledig ABBA album leuk zou vinden.

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Fri May 14 2021
4

A B B A ! ! !

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Sun May 02 2021
4

I already know ABBA, there were less knnown songs, which I also enjoyed.

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Tue Mar 30 2021
4

This album, by Swedish Pop Sensation ABBA, is amazing, as all ABBA albums are!

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Tue Apr 27 2021
4

Not my favorite ABBA album but...it's still ABBA so 4 stars it is!

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Wed Apr 21 2021
4

Album Song Ranking: Should I Laugh Or Cry Slipping Through My Fingers (H.M.) Under Attack I Let The Music Speak (H.M.) The Day Before You Came (H.M.) Like An Angel Passing Through My Room The Visitors Soldiers When All Is Said And Done One Of Us Head Over Heels Cassandra Two For The Price Of One Additional Comments: This album was hard to rank. I really enjoyed it overall. The first half I didn't enjoy as much as I did with the second half, but it definitely left a mark on me. Very nostalgic and overall great album.

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Thu May 27 2021
4

At first I thought "second ABBA album this month, basically no hits again...", but this is amazing.

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Mon May 17 2021
4

darker abba? don't mind if I do

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Fri Jun 18 2021
4

For an album that has zero ABBA songs I've heard before, it was pretty good.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
4

Enjoyed this album more than I expected.

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Sun Jun 27 2021
4

A different sound for ABBA but the same result. Good stuff.

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Thu Jun 03 2021
4

I NEVER thought I’d vibe with an ABBA album this much, but alas this thing is great. Best song is that first tracks so good

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Mon May 31 2021
4

Party disco. Absolutely.

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Fri May 28 2021
4

I dig this. ABBA pretty consistently delivers and this is no exception. It's definite '80s glorious synth-cheese.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
4

it's pretty good

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Fri Jul 23 2021
4

Pop perfection.

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