ABBA: The Album
The release of The Album in 1978 signaled a new level of ambition in ABBA’s music. The giddy energy and sheer tunefulness that had always typified the Swedish foursome’s work is still present; what’s new is a more sophisticated use of musical influences and greater lyrical depth. The Album beefs up ABBA’s rock quotient with plenty of incisive lead guitar by Lasse Wellander and a tougher rhythm sound overall. The pop elements take on a heightened luster, with Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad merging voices sublimely on “Take a Chance on Me” and “The Name of the Game.” Chief composers Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus expand their sonic palette with touches of prog rock and European theater elements, heard in the stirring sweep of “Eagle” and the cabaret-like moodiness of “I’m a Marionette.” The latter song is likewise noticeable for its jaundiced view of show business; clearly, ABBA were stepping away from exclusively upbeat content at this point in their career. Elegantly emotive ballads like “Thank You for the Music” and “I Wonder (Departure)” further enrich this consistently impressive song collection.