ABBA: Arrival – (RCA)

By Mark Alchin - RAM 17 December 1976

This album is 100% predictable.

There is no raunchy rock song or political protest ballad to show that the band is diversifying or expanding in any new direction.

It’s all fun and games in the good ol’ Eurobeat tradition with lush strings, choirs, and clean, pure vocals. All the ingredients that made ABBA a success in the first place are in total evidence here.

At the moment there is no justification for calling ABBA a musical force. They are simply an easy listening band who make easy listening music. That’s precisely the reason that they are most popular with pre-teenagers and the over 30 set. It’s not the teenagers who are buying ABBA music, it’s the teenagers who are slagging the madness out of them.

The thing that distinguished genuine musical forces like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan is that they developed and began to explore different styles of music as they grew and were influenced by social changes.

She Loves You and Get Back (by The Beatles) are so different that they could be by two different bands. But if ABBA follow their current musical path (and it’s exceedingly difficult imagining them getting up to anything else) they will still be recording Dancing Queens and Fernandos in five years time.

But, make no mistake, in the business of producing pure pop, ABBA are experts.

Here there are 11 tracks that showcase the exact same talents that were evident on all their previous work. The music is the same. The lyrics do not show any great prophetical visions. They are basic love, lost love, and happy, sunny day songs.

Although, occasionally, very occasionally, they outdo themselves in this department, Fernando is a genuinely thoughtful collection of memories about a bygone war experience “I was so afraid Fernando/ We were young and full of life/ And none of us prepared to die/ And I’m not ashamed to say the roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry” but these words are buried in such a ridiculously innocuous musical arrangement as to make the lyrics totally meaningless.

As a matter of fact, ridiculous as it may sound, this album is not up to the standard of their last album ABBA, which had a lot more musical variety. The songs on Arrival tend towards sameness and the production falls into a rut too often.

Not that it matters, or will make any difference whatsoever to their record sales.

Photo of ABBA: “We do not care about indifferent reviews. We have over 200 gold records,” mutter collective Swedish schmaltzies.

© 1976 RAM. Thanks to Samuel Inglles