ABBA.

The term “iconic” is beaten to death, thanks to the Internet and Stan Twitter, and maybe also sometimes me. But in this case, it’s only appropriate.

The legitimately legendary Swedish troupe and Eurovision winners-turned-global icons – responsible for every pop song you’ve ever known and loved growing up, from “Dancing Queen” to “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” to “Mamma Mia,” which has since experienced a resurgence among Gen Z thanks to TikTok – is finally back.

And, just as Perfect Pop pioneers would, they’re doing things a bit differently.

After taking a casual (near) 40 years away from the scene, having last appeared with 1982’s The Visitors, the group used a global livestream on Thursday (September 2) to unveil some rather major plans: they’re returning with not only a whole new record at the end of 2021, but an entire custom-built concert experience next year.

“To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!” they casually announced in a press release.

“We simply call it Voyage and we’re truly sailing in uncharted waters. With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future. It’s not easy to explain but then it hasn’t been done before.”

To kick off the campaign, the group released two singles: “I Still Have Faith in You,” and “Don’t Shut Me Down.”

And to be honest, as the footage of hordes of shaking and crying fans listening to their hits segued into their new songs on the livestream, it was hard to even recognize that these were new entries into their discography.

Truly, they sound like classic ABBA songs – more robust with modern production, sure – but those melodies and hooks are undeniably the stuff of a group that’s still got it, decades later.

But wait – there’s more.

In addition to their upcoming album Voyage, out on November 5, the group has spent months preparing a special show that will open on May 27, 2022 at their own custom-built ABBA Arena, a 3,000 capacity venue located at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

And while the idea of a hologram show might not initially sound appealing, the preview of the project from their livestream alone looked pretty dazzling. It also helps that it was constructed with an 850-member team from George Lucas‘ Industrial Light & Magic, the company behind Star Wars, in their official “first foray into music.” (Ticket info is here.)

All of the ABBA members also weighed in with their thoughts about the project.

“It’s hard to say what’s been the most joyful thing for me with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years. I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat. When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10-piece band. And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM,” said Benny.

“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d consider singing some more I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same,” Anni-Frid added.

“When we got back together in the studio I had no idea what to expect…but Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!” Agnetha remarked.

“They’re such amazing singers those two, I was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. They’re true musicians; totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The Voyage project has injected new life into us in more ways than one,” Björn added.

If ever there were an act to revolutionize the live concert experience, and once again put a dent in pop culture after four decades, it’s undoubtedly ABBA.

“So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the ABBA Arena and yes – see – because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back,” the group added.

Iconic behavior, truly.

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Photo credit: Baillie Walsh