They Fin-ABBA-lly Came Up With a Gud Album!
Overall Album Score: 7.8 out of 10
The more I think about it, the more I hate that first ABBA album. It's been quite a while now since I heard it ... and the wounds are still healing! I'd also assume forget Waterloo as well.
Fortunately for the world, this group improved immensely by their third effort. Just take a look through the track line-up, and there's only two mediocre tracks. Unlike what I've gotten used to in their previous efforts, there isn't a *bad* song in the bunch. OK, "Tropical Loveland" and "Man in the Middle" are pretty awful, but they're easier to take in smaller doses.
I believe this calls for a Swedish celebration!!!!! But let's not be immature.
ABBA conjured up a pop classic with "Mamma Mia." Through the years since I've heard it, that song always managed to stay with me. It's an enjoyable listen with a perfect, complex melody. You can even tell this group made massive improvements in their studio! It's a real gem.
And that's not all. This album also contains other major hits for this group. "S.O.S." has a melody that nobody can scoff. "Rock Me" and "Hey Hey Helen" are hardly Led-Zeppelin-esque, but they're tuneful and effective stabs at real rock music. Perhaps the most artistically notable track is "Intermezzo No. 1," which can be accurately described as pop-rock-classical music.
I'm even more glad to note that these guys would get even better than this, but let's not get ahead of ourselves!
Overall Album Score: 7.8 out of 10 (The flow of flawless melodies are starting to gush in!)
Average Song Score: 8.0 (Great tunes ... Even the non-hits have melodies worth merit. There were only two poor songs in this album.)
Album Tilt: 8.0 (The melodies are what makes this a great album. So many of them ... it's a fun one to sit through.)
Artist Tilt: 7.5 (Artistic merit wasn't their aim. Still, they do a few interesting things.)
Mamma Mia! 10/10
This is easily the best track of the album. The hooks are absolutely golden! This song even contains many different melodies that were effortlessly stringed together. You'll probably love it, if you haven't heard it. Even if you have the hardest of hearts when it comes to Europop. This song has a poppy atmosphere and great spirit, too.
Hey, Hey Helen 9/10
I'm probably giving this score a too-high score, but I think it's deserving. As I said in the review body, this is a straight rock song. Naturally, anyone expecting this to be like Led Zeppelin will be sorely disappointed, but this has some pop hooks that'll kill you! Woof!
Tropical Loveland 5/10
The world's worst combination must be Europop and reggae. Yuck! The Eurythmics eventually proved me that it can be done, but whenever ABBA tries it they end up making some extremely annoying music. I'm so annoyed by it that I don't even care that the melody is OK.
This is another entirely decent pop song! Guess what this one's about? Huh? It's about LOOOOOVE. More specifically some chick trying to get a guy's attention. This is a little weaker if you want to compare it to "Mamma Mia!" but it's one of this group's biggest hits and for good reason. That slick melody should be envied by every musician. There's nothing I like more than a good melody!
Man in the Middle 5/10
Notice whenever the guys sing on a track, I end up hating it more. We seriously don't even want to hear from you. You can wear funny clothes all you want, and for the love of cheese keep on writing songs! But please don't sing!!! At least they take the one song with the album's blandest melody. Such gentlemen!
Bang a Boomerang 8/10
This title makes as much sense as "She Bangs," I guess! (What else rhymes with "boomerang," anyway? Stang? Fang?) This song is pretty weak when you compare it to the hits. It has and overblown but ultimately effective synth intro and turns into a song catchier than those little seeds you get on your socks when you go hiking into the woods.
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do 8.5/10
This could very well be the one song that'll irritate you more than the other songs. As far as unrelenting schlock goes, this is right up there. The weird thing is the melody must be among the album's most hook-filled. The song's atmosphere is also compelling and ... it's extremely easy to get caught up in it. The question is: Are you going to let this song pick you up for the ride, or are you going to sit there with your arms crossed resisting?
Rock Me 9/10
The guys sing here again, but it comes off more nicely. They try to belt off these lyrics in the gruffest, "rockingest" voice possible, but you can tell they're pussycats at heart! For some reason I don't mind it. The melody is very catchy with great harmonies. ... It's a wussy song, but charming.
Intermezzo No. 1 9.5/10
The worst thing musicians have done was to put snare drum backing to classical music. I always found it cheap and degrading. But, if you want to write your own classical song and then put it to a pop-rock drum beat, then that's OK by me. If anything, this song's the first real "proof" that Benny and Bjorn were interested in the *art* of composition instead of probing for hits. This is an interesting and complex song that had absolutely no commercial marketability. The result, this is one of the best and most memorable songs of the album.
I've Been Waiting For You 7.5/10
Nothing has been so schmaltzy up until now. This is a "sweeping romantic ballad" that's pretty difficult to take in. They would greatly improve this sort of folky pop ballad later on with "Chiquitita" and "Thank You For the Music," so let's not get impatient! What saves the song is the melody, but I can't report that it's among the album's better examples.
So Long 8.5/10
This is almost another rocker, but the pop pretenses take over! The melody is absolutely spotless, and there's nobody who can criticize that! This makes a highly appropriate closer too. It has a conclusive atmosphere and a polite message. So long until the next ABBA album!
"Crazy World" isn't a bad song ... it reminds me of Christopher Cross. Take that for what you will. Also included is a song called "Medley: Pick a Bale of Cotton / On Top of Old Smokey / Midnight Special." That one is pretty difficult to sit through.
Am I an album reviewing genius? .... YES! Tell me so here.