Friday, September 17th, 2021

ABBA – I Still Have Faith In You

Slightly worn, but dignified…


Katie Gill: Look. Yes, it’s a basic, play-by-numbers “hey gang, we’re back!” song. Yes, the lyrics are a little too close to cornball (but like, it’s ABBA, that’s expected). Yes, that “we do have it in us” chorus is a weirdly mixed but blatant we can do this, I love you ABBA hive, bombast-for-the-sake-of-bombast attempt to tug at the heartstrings. But like, IT’S ABBA. What were we expecting? This is ABBA doing peak ABBA and releasing a comeback single that’s a shining beacon of ABBA telling everybody that their new album is gonna be absolutely as expected in all the best ways. They’re not gonna reinvent the wheel.

Alfred Soto: No, no, no, ABBA is not supposed to faff around in search of a melody.

Katherine St Asaph: Even at their absolute sappiest — “The Way Old Friends Do,” “My Love, My Life,” “I Wonder” — ABBA had a way of dissolving the ballad stodge and bloatedly described emotion to find veins of undiscovered, unfiltered melody, as viscerally immediate as a flashback to a memory you don’t recall having. I don’t even remember whether this has a melody.

Edward Okulicz: Against my reservations that they’re too cheesy, too bad-musical-theatre, I love quite a few of ABBA’s treaclier numbers. This one’s nicely crafted and a lovely sentiment, but like in a musical, the song’s sung to someone that’s not me, and I can’t get outside of that viewpoint. Unlike, for instance, “Thank You for the Music,” I don’t feel like the rest of the world is singing along with this one. It doesn’t help that when the power ballad section comes in, the song gets a lot weaker, as if it’s not suited to the much deeper voices ABBA sing with in 2021. I don’t resent the joy this is going to bring a lot of people, but without a lifetime of it being part of the cultural fabric, I can’t love this. Come back to me in 2061, and I might have changed my mind, but for now:

Dorian Sinclair: My first thought when listening to “I Still Have Faith In You” is how little Agnetha Fältskog’s voice has changed. The song itself feels eerily out-of-time, like it could have been written decades ago. Mostly this works, with the weight of lived experience behind the lyrics lending additional impact, but the anthemic guitars-and-multitracked-vocals chorus crosses the line to dated. On the other hand, the melodic lilt every time Agnetha asks “do I have it in me?” is perfect. Despite the flaws here, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

Claire Biddles: Some nice moments, but I wish Benny and Björn would learn to distinguish between the two disciplines of musical theatre and pop songwriting.

Alex Clifton: The beginning of this is a bit much — I kept wondering if the instrumentation was from a song cut from a musical — but I’m willing to forgive because it’s ABBA. If anyone can do a rousing ballad, it should be them. What’s more, it’s a lovely return to form, a song that acknowledges all that the members have been through over the course of their career. When it hits the climax, it soars, much like the best of their past material. Forty years later and they’ve still got it — a genuine thrill to experience.

Mark Sinker: When this first dropped, I read way too often that it was a “banger”. This is OBJECTIVELY NOT a “banger” (not at all a comment on its quality, but an argument about the meaning of the word). Things I like: the couplet “we know that we need one another/like fighters in a ring”. Yes! The song should be about you! Things that annoy me: the softened double-T in “bittersweet“. Enunciate properly please, this is pop. 

Michael Hong: ABBA were always great at building a world from nothing. They sprawl endlessly, adding each instrumental and each voice little by little, the melody snaking around the arrangement, curving at its most wilful moments, then exploding in grand momentum. But my favourite ABBA songs are the ones that were the kindest, the generous ones that turned their gaze on you, handing over the choice. As if the band never fractured, “I Still Have Faith In You” picks up exactly where those left off, but updates them, piecing together the last forty years of production advances to sound right in the moment. It’s still as generous and kind as the best of them, and after the year we’ve had, don’t we deserve it? Doesn’t “I Still Have Faith In You” sound exactly like the light on the horizon? It feels so nice to bask in their glow.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: It feels like the Tin Man: put together well, but no heart to be found.

Scott Mildenhall: In many ways, it’s not classic ABBA. Overstretched, with awkward production choices — the synthesised horns are more lead than brass — it could almost have fallen flat. But hearing those voices give life to these sentiments — so quintessential to this band — could hardly not be emotional. It’s disarmingly casual, the way they deploy “do I have it in me?”, a hook as indelible as it is laden with life. And why not? That incisiveness is what they do, and it won’t be leaving anyone anytime soon.

Nortey Dowuona: gosh darn it. faith rewarded. ABBA better than The Beatles. i guess this is wassup, old swedes.

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One Response to “ABBA – I Still Have Faith In You”

  1. three things:

    a) in my blurb I’m not counting stuff like “Me and Bobby and Bobby’s Brother” obviously, but even that had a (really obnoxious earworm of a) melody

    b) really glad Katie noticed the bad mixing, I noticed it too but couldn’t work it into my blurb, I even went back to the old ABBA songs to see whether I just had nostalgia filter active; I didn’t

    c) ABBA’s musical theater songs are usually really good, which is the thing! all of the Girl with the Golden Hair songs are

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