ABBA are not only one of my favourite bands of the seventies but, in my opinion, the greatest pop band ever. Their songs are catchy, appeal to everyone and don’t wear over time. As shown in their later work, they could also write deeply personal, touching music. They write and play their own songs, their outfits are fantastic and the band were early pioneers of the music video. However, I had never listened to an ABBA album (apart from the greatest hits). So I had high hopes for Arrival, supposedly their best record and the 28th best album of all time.
Arrival contains three of ABBA’s biggest hits. The introduction to Dancing Queen, with it’s cheeky piano slide and singalong harmony, is perfectly designed to get you on the dancefloor. Even the lyrics encourage you to join in “You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life”. And when you do, you’ll find a pleasant beat, sassy lyrics and wonderful piano. The perfect pop song. Knowing Me, Knowing You is more downbeat. A resigned breakup song, the ‘aha’ in the chorus seems a little out of place. Money, Money, Money is very dramatic, but also tongue in cheek.
The remainder of the album, like most pop albums, fails to match the quality of the singles. Often light and cheery, they tread a fine line between the good and the cheesy – Dum Dum Diddle and Tiger being good examples. When I Kissed The Teacher shows the fun in Björn’s lyric writing and is a nice, light hearted start to the record. The instrumental title track offers a strangely formal, delicately triumphant close.