ABBA outsell Ed Sheeran as new album Voyage becomes UK chart's fastest selling LP in four years


ABBA’s latest album Voyage has already smashed a UK record by becoming the fastest selling LP in four years, just six days after going on general release. 

The Swedish pop pioneers returned with their ninth and final album on November 5, with sales figures suggesting it has rapidly outsold every other current release – among them Ed Sheeran’s = (equals). 

Sheeran’s fifth mathematically titled LP has been available to buy since October 29 and currently sits at number one in the UK Album Chart, but is expected to be ousted by ABBA when the chart is updated on November 12. 

Success: ABBA's latest album Voyage has already smashed a UK record by becoming the fastest selling LP in four years, just six days after going on general release

Success: ABBA’s latest album Voyage has already smashed a UK record by becoming the fastest selling LP in four years, just six days after going on general release

While = (equals) sold 139,000 copies in just seven days, Voyage – ABBA’s first album of original material since 1981 – has sold 181,712 copies over a shorter period of time. 

The Swedish pop group delighted fans when they announced they were returning with a revolutionary concert and new album in October. 

Immediately after the announcement, Agnetha Fältskog, 71, Björn Ulvaeus, 76, Benny Andersson, 74, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 75, released new tracks I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down – which received rave reviews.

Popular: The Swedish pop pioneers returned with their ninth and final album on November 5, with sales figures suggesting it has rapidly outsold every other current release

Popular: The Swedish pop pioneers returned with their ninth and final album on November 5, with sales figures suggesting it has rapidly outsold every other current release

However, critics were divided by the remaining body of work after the full album was released on Friday morning.

The Guardian’s Jude Rogers awarded the album just two stars, noting: ‘the glamour promised by this album’s two terrific singles goes horribly unfulfilled.’

Rogers added: ‘In the past, they excelled when they twisted the sounds of their times in their own way, when they were within glam, disco and electronic pop but also apart from these genres; when their idiosyncrasies elevated them, rather than diminished them.

Top of the tree: Ed Sheeran's fifth mathematically titled LP = (equals) currently sits at number one in the UK Album Chart, but is expected to be ousted by ABBA when the chart is updated on November 12

Top of the tree: Ed Sheeran’s fifth mathematically titled LP = (equals) currently sits at number one in the UK Album Chart, but is expected to be ousted by ABBA when the chart is updated on November 12

‘If only they had stopped at those two knowing songs, leaving the rest to our dazzling imaginations.’

The Telegraph’s Neil McCormick was slightly more generous with a three star rating, but stated the Swedish band had ‘drifted a long way from Waterloo’.

Alas the new music didn’t match up to their greatest hits, as Neil penned: ‘There is nothing here that strikes the pure gold seam of their classic 45s.

‘Voyage is weighed down with too many portentous theatrical ballads and schlager-style romps that sound like minor off-cuts from the Seventies.’

He concluded: ‘Voyage is a gentle OAP cruise around the backwaters of Abba’s reputation. Grandmama Mia! Here we go again.’

Rivals: While = (equals) sold 139,000 copies in just seven days, Voyage - ABBA's first album of original material since 1981 - has sold 181,712 copies over a shorter period of time

Rivals: While = (equals) sold 139,000 copies in just seven days, Voyage – ABBA’s first album of original material since 1981 – has sold 181,712 copies over a shorter period of time

NME also awarded three stars as they questioned whether the iconic band’s comeback was ‘more noteworthy than the music itself?’

The Daily Mail’s Adrian Thrills also awarded Voyage four stars, writing: ‘The quartet’s first album since 1981’s The Visitors rekindles the heartfelt storytelling and melodic genius that helped turn the group into one of pop’s greatest success stories.’

He concluded: ‘Whatever side of Abba takes your fancy, there’s something here for you. So, do I like it? I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.’

Old times: ABBA revolutionised pop music during their 1970s and early '80s heyday

Old times: ABBA revolutionised pop music during their 1970s and early ’80s heyday 

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Voyage is ABBA’s ninth studio album and the follow-up to The Visitors, which had been the group’s final album when it was released in 1984.

The Swedish group released three singles from their new album, I Still Have Faith In You, Don’t Shut Me Down and Just A Notion, which was recorded in 1978 but didn’t make the cut for their sixth album Voulez-Vous.

ABBA’s comeback songs reached numbers nine, fourteen and 59 in the UK Singles Chart – as well as a number one in their native Sweden.

It comes after the four-piece announced they will retire following the release of their album and the completion of their stage residency.

The pop pioneers originally split up in 1982, but reformed earlier this year to record ninth studio album Voyage and unveil plans for an immersive digital stage show, to be held in Stratford next May.

The show will take place in the purpose-built ABBA Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London from May 27, 2022.

ABBA became household names after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with hit single Waterloo.

They went on to release tracks including Mama Mia!, Dancing Queen, Take a Chance On Me and Thank You For The Music before walking away from the music industry. 

The group went their separate ways at the height of their career, and during their final years Björn divorced bandmate Agnetha whilst Benny and Frida split up, too.

They performed together for the first time in decades in 2016 at a private event, which marked the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between songwriters Björn and Benny.

Tickets for the ABBA Voyage concerts are available on abbavoyage.com.

Digital: The pop pioneers originally split up in 1982, but reformed earlier this year to record ninth studio album Voyage and unveil plans for an immersive digital stage show

Digital: The pop pioneers originally split up in 1982, but reformed earlier this year to record ninth studio album Voyage and unveil plans for an immersive digital stage show

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