Swedish supergroup ABBA has announced their first new album in four decades and said they would stage a series of virtual concerts using digital avatars of themselves in London next year.
Fans piled online to celebrate the long-awaited reunion of one of the world's most successful bands.
"2021 has been saved by new ABBA music," @elliemiles23 said in one widely shared Twitter post.
The album "Voyage" will come out on November 5, the band said during the streamed launch. They released two of its 10 songs — "I Still Have Faith In You" and "Don't Shut Me Down" — on Thursday.
"First it was just two songs," songwriter Benny Andersson said in a pre-recorded video message.
Abba delight fans with new 10-song album and virtual concert https://t.co/Pg4TQqZwWK— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) September 3, 2021
"Then we said 'maybe we should do, I don't know, a few others. What do you say girls?' And they said 'yeah' and then I asked 'why don't we do a full album?'"
The recording went smoothly, co-songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus said. "It all came rushing back in a matter of seconds."
"I knew when Benny played the melody it just had to be about us," he added about "I Still Have Faith In You". The new album will also include a Christmas song "Little Things".
The concerts will be held at a purpose-built ABBA Arena in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in May, and feature digital versions of its four stars Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
The "abbatars" were created using motion capture technology – similar to that used to create Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings" movies – and will show members of the band as they looked in 1979.
"The only big problem was that we had to shave our beards," Andersson said.
Return of 'Dancing Queen'
The concerts will feature 22 songs, including the two new numbers and a "sort of a greatest hits" compilation, including "Dancing Queen", he added.
Ulvaeus said ABBA had chosen London because the group felt welcome there.
"Somehow, we have always felt that the Brits see us as their own – it feels like that when we come here every time," he said.
Faltskog and Lyngstad did not speak during the streamed launch.
In a statement Faltskog said she had not known what to expect when they got back together to record. "But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself."
ABBA was founded in the early 70s by then couples Agnetha and Bjorn, together with Benny and Anni-Frid. Their initials gave the band its name.
ABBA notched up over 400 million album sales over 50 years despite parting ways in 1982 and resolutely resisting all offers to work together again — until now.
The pop maestros had a string of hits in the 1970s and early 1980s after winning Eurovision in 1974 with "Waterloo".
Their last album with fresh material, 1981's "The Visitors", included songs tinged with the sadness of their divorces. The band split a year later.
Rumours swirled for years that ABBA would get back together, but the members turned down many offers, including one reported $1 billion package to tour again.
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