Saturday, February 5, 2011

Album Review: Arrival

By the end of 1976, ABBA had scored a string of international smash singles with "SOS," "Mamma Mia," "Fernando" and "Dancing Queen."  They had also finally broken into the album charts.  Ironically, the first hit album from ABBA was a greatest hits collection filled with singles.  The ABBA-hungry world was ready for a brand new album.  When Arrival hit stores in November that year, it was a blockbuster.  The title was very appropriate:  ABBA had indeed arrived with their first genuinely brilliant album.  The sound on this album was sophisticated, clever and engaging.  There are so many layers to it, so much packed into the sound, that even after a dozen plays, Arrival could still yield surprises to an alert listener.  It took nearly eighteen months to write and record all of the material on this album.  And it showed.  "Dancing Queen" easily became the biggest hit of their career.  The next two singles were not as massive, but were still solid hits.  "Money, Money, Money" was pop magic.  "Knowing Me, Knowing You" showed that ABBA could show emotion and create a mood with their lyrics.  The break-up theme of this song was brilliant, and it was one that ABBA visited over and over again for the remainder of their career.  The women's vocals are top notch here, particularly Frida, who sings lead on "Knowing Me, Knowing You."  Björn sang lead on only one song.  But this time, it worked.  The raunchy "Why Did It Have To Be Me" was fun and engaging.  "That's Me" (which Agnetha chose as her favorite number from Arrival-perhaps explaining its selection as the b-side of the "Dancing Queen" single) had a rhythmic feel like no ABBA song so far.  The only weak spots were "When I Kissed The Teacher," "Dum Dum Diddle" and "Tiger."  But despite their weaknesses lyrically, these tracks all work because of the vocals and production.  ABBA had stumbled onto a winning formula.  They had the world's ear.  From there, it only got better.

No comments:

Post a Comment