Let the music speak
Cristian Domarchi | Concepcion, Chile | 10/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not by any chance the typical Abba album, "The Visitors" shows the world a totally different reality than the one that was experienced through their previous recordings. If "Ring Ring" or "Arrival" featured innocent and candid lyrics, and "Voulez-Vous" or "Super Trouper" were deeply involved with the disco-revolution that the world was living, "The Visitors", stands out as the best Abba album because of its strength. This is a pop record, made by people who know how to make pop sound like pop. Probably a big part of the strength of the album had to do with the lives of the members of the band during the recording. With guitarist/composer Bjorn Ulvaeus and singer Agnetha Faltskog already divorced since 1979, the band had to suffer the divorce of the second marriage, between keyboardist/composer Benny Andersson and singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The result of these hard situations are the most sincere lyrics ever written by this band. From beginning to end, the album is astonishing. "The Visitors" is the first (and the best in my humble opinion) track, and features an amazing Frida lead vocal, and altered all-band vocals for the bridge and chorus. The theme of the album goes through all these marriage complications, and it's mostly Frida the one who gets to sing the most intense lyrics this time. "When All Is Said And Done" (re-recorded in Spanish as "No Hay A Quien Culpar", this version is available on the "Oro: Grandes Éxitos" compilation) is a strong "goodbye" song, ironically with Benny playing an amazing piano part. We see Frida on her best vocal way also with "I Let The Music Speak", a track that explores the not always well apreciated theatrical vein of the band. The beautiful, haunting closing track (and a good farewell track for the band) is "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room", the one and only Abba track that does not feature a single vocal harmony, not even in the background. The song is sweet and tender, it sounds like Frida is sending her children to sleep.While Bjorn pays his personal tribute to The Beatles with the Pepper-ish "Two For The Price Of One", Agnetha gets the chance to sing on "Head Over Heels", a great poppy track; the haunting "One Of Us" (the only song from this album that made it to the "Gold" compilation"), in which she shows yet again her talents as a vocalist; "Soldiers", which is an ambient surrealistic track resemblent to the anthem "Eagle", released on 1978; and "Slipping Through My Fingers", the sweetest song of the bunch, talking about how hard is for parents to handle the growing of their children. This song was also re-recorded in Spanish as "Se Me Está Escapando"The B-side to the "One Of Us" single was "Should I Laugh Or Cry", another breaking-up song, strongly sung by Frida. The next Abba singles were "The Day Before You Came", probably the Abba song with the greatest lyrics ever and "Under Attack", ironically a much lighter love song. Those along with their respective B-sides "Cassandra" and the silly "You Owe Me One" can all be found in different issues of this album, and in different compilations. Those are for giving the costumer a complete view of the moment Abba was experiencing while recording "The Visitors". Their strongest record was surrounded by the sense of having grown up, the sensation of maturity and the need to do more innovative stuff in the fields of music. Benny and Bjorn took their chance and let the music speak for them. They were totally splitting up, but they let the world know about it. Surely they didn't think that was true, but it was anyway. It's sad that after a masterpiece like this a band like Abba broke up. It would have been great to know their achievements in the fields of the complex 80's music scene, but one must think that everything has a planned end, and there's nothing left to do when that happens.Don't expect this to be the regular Abba CD. It is much more innovative and "experimental", if you want... But it is an Abba record anyway. You recognize them not only because of the vocalists, but also because they're "letting the music speak" by them. And that's what they always did."
When all is said and done, it's a great album
Eric James Stone | Eagle Mountain, UT United States | 01/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I believe this is the greatest of Abba's original albums. I like every single song on this album. Some of these songs don't appear on the "Gold" or "More Gold" albums, but every one is a classic. From the intense (and paranoid?)"The Visitors," to the bitersweet "Slipping Through my Fingers," to the humorous "Two for the Price of One" (with a male lead vocal), this album is worth listening to."