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After 40 years, ABBA is back with new music — and they’re performing as avatars

Nearly 40 years after breaking up, the band that gave us hits like ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Take a Chance on Me’ has reunited in full force

SHARE After 40 years, ABBA is back with new music — and they’re performing as avatars
Photo of the ABBA fan singalong and new song release event in Central Park.

Atmosphere at the ABBA fan singalong and new song release event in Central Park on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in New York. After 40 years, the band has released its ninth album, “Voyage.”

Greg Allen, Invision via Associated Press

Although they broke up in 1982, ABBA didn’t exactly disappear.

In fact, the Swedish band’s popularity resurged in the 1990s, largely thanks to the musical “Mamma Mia!” — which led to the 2008 film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan — and the ABBA-heavy soundtracks of films like “Muriel’s Wedding” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

“There’s been more ABBA in the world the last 20 years than the first 20 years,” ABBA member Benny Andersson told CBS News. “It’s kind of weird! And I’m happy, and grateful.”

Now, nearly 40 years after breaking up, the band that gave us hits like “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me” has reunited in full force, releasing a new album and producing a one-of-a-kind concert that features the band members as “ABBAtars” — digital versions of their 1979 selves, The New York Times reported.

When does the new ABBA album come out?

“Voyage,” ABBA’s ninth album that is the follow-up to 1981’s “The Visitors,” comes out midnight, local time, on Nov. 5, according to ABBA’s official Facebook page.

The album features 10 new songs, including “I Still Have Faith in You,” which represents the theme of the band getting back together, CBS News reported. The music video for that track has garnered 26 million views on YouTube since September.

“We’re just going to do the songs, the best songs we can right now,” ABBA lyricist Bjorn Ulvaeus told The Guardian of his songwriting process. “That meant writing lyrics I could get some of my thoughts of these past 40 years into, and add some kind of depth that, hopefully, comes with age and that makes it different from the lyrics I wrote 40 years ago.”

ABBA began recording the album in 2018, and doesn’t have plans to release any more music after this — even though there were two unfinished songs that didn’t make it onto the album, The Guardian reported.

“This is it,” Andersson said. “It’s got to be, you know.”

Other currently available tracks from the album include:

What is ABBA’s new virtual reality concert?

In addition to releasing a new album, ABBA is also launching a one-of-a-kind virtual reality concert next year.

The idea for the show began five years ago, and involves the construction of a 3,000 seat arena in London, a 10-piece live band and the George Lucas-founded visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic to create the “Abbatars,” according to The New York Times.

To bring the production to life, ABBA took part in a five-week motion capture recording session with 160 cameras. The band members wore tight suits covered in sensors to capture every movement, CBS News reported.

A de-aging editing process was then applied to the footage to create the 1979 digital avatars.

“You have to realize that we are confronted by our younger selves all the time on television, in pictures and all of that,” Ulvaeus told The Guardian. “Everyone asks us if it must have been very weird, but for me, I don’t think so. It’s completely natural. Everyone should have their own avatar.”

The virtual reality concert begins on May 27, 2022, and takes place at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, according to Forbes.

The album and tickets for the concert can be purchased through ABBA’s website. The high demand for both “Voyage” and the concert previously caused ABBA’s website to crash, The Guardian reported.

“It’s cool they have been making such a big impact in music history,”’ Katja Nord, a member of the Swedish ABBA tribute band Waterloo, previously told the Deseret News. “Wherever we come in the world, if (people) don’t know what ABBA is, if they don’t know what Sweden is, they always know what ‘Dancing Queen’ is.″

“ABBA fever will never stop,” added Victoria Norback, a member of the ABBA tribute band Arrival.