Track Review: Don’t Shut Me Down // ABBA

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There’s nothing new to be said about ABBA not previously uttered ad-nauseum. Most noteworthy is probably their swift transformation from hawking holiday camp schlager and catchy yet derivative glam (listen to ‘Waterloo’ after playing ‘See My Baby Jive’ if you don’t believe me), to fashioning beautiful, timeless icy blasts of glacial divorce pop. 

Whatever the reasons for ABBA’s return to the studio, let’s simply marvel at the fact that now in their seventies and still with us, the quartet has finally buried the hatchet. Regrouping one last time to create the much longed-for epilogue to their bitter break-up, let’s not forget Anni-Frid and Agnetha seemed to vanish just like their all-conquering racket wielding countryman, one moment ubiquitous, the next nowhere.

‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is the more concise and upbeat of the new brace, a tale of two reunited after years apart. Perhaps this represents a “what might have been” for the band’s two couples. As online forums are suddenly swamped with those trying to type a backwards capital B, Benny and Bjorn know this new record can’t recapture ABBA in their pomp. Instead, they’re older, wiser, taking stock and moving forward; the opening empty nest and sunset metaphors an admission of half a lifetime’s passing since those halcyon days.

Saying that, ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ delivers quintessentially mid-tempo ABBA—albeit a touch heavy on their musical theatre leanings and not quite their dizzying best. Nevertheless, the trademark vocals endure, the craft is still abundantly evident, bullet-proof quality control ensuring if the new material didn’t cut the mustard, it would never have seen the light of day. 

Words by Michael Price


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