Released: October 13
A surprise return after more than 10 years away, ABBA star Agnetha Fältskog revisits her fifth English-language album, 2013’s ‘A’, for a newly-remixed edition of the LP.
A creative exercise that came to life after the vocalist heard one of the songs from the original record playing on the radio and was transported back to the time of its creation, a decade ago, as her first album of original material in over 25 years, the project bears new versions of all 10 of the album tracks, along with the brand new recording, Where Do We Go From Here?
“Suddenly it hit me, what would the album sound like if we had made it today? I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” says Fältskog. “I reached out to the boys who produced ‘A’ back in 2013 – ‘What would you guys think about reimagining ‘A’ and making a totally new version of it?’. They loved the idea! ‘Let’s try!’”
Original producer Jörgen Elofsson set to work modernising the record, which at the time was “a reaction against EDM and the dance music that dominated the pop world”, but with no boundaries some of those influences creep in this time around, on the aptly-titled Dance Your Pain Away, for example.
That track had classic disco influences the first time around, but others have been reworked into totally different beasts altogether; take Back On Your Radio, the penultimate song from the first release, that’s been reenvisioned as a contemporary pop anthem, earning its place at the top of the stack.
Meanwhile, the single When You Really Loved Someone, formerly a breezy mid tempo ballad, is now underpinned by trip-inspired beats for an entirely new direction that allows both to exist in the same timespace.
Among the slower numbers, the changes become less pronounced; oftentimes, the string arrangements are stripped back in favour of a soundscape more in keeping with the remainder of the album. Past Forever is one of the more dramatically reworked offerings, with a pulsing synth line adding an entirely new dimension, while the tweaks to Bubble, for example, remain largely faithful to the original. The formerly-soaring Gary Barlow collaboration, I Should’ve Followed You Home, loses some of its charm in a more rigid bossa nova framing..
Most exciting of all is the new song. Two years after ABBA returned with ‘Voyage’, Fältskog’s vocal remains as captivating as it did five decades ago and if this gives even a glimmer of hope of her even considering returning to the studio for more, it makes it even more worthwhile.
‘A’ was and is a standout album from her storied career and a project such as this is a risk, but the changes are such that ‘A+’ exists in its own right, separate to the original release, as a standalone body of work that can be enjoyed without any background context.
How it holds up in the long term – we’ll see in another 10 years from now…