Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No more carefree laughter

76. ABBA - "Knowing Me Knowing You" (Polydor, 1977)

I searched for like five minutes because I could have sworn I've already written about ABBA, but I guess that's just the false memory of something I should have done long ago and not gotten around to yet. Anyways, here they are at number 76: one of the great bands ever, one of the things my parents always loved that I had no idea I would come to love so much. ABBA were every bit as great at writing about complex, grown-up emotions as they were at writing giant pop hooks (PS they were absolutely top of the heap at both). I don't think I know any better songs about being resigned to the end of a relationship, certainly not a better sounding one. The chorus is triumphant, but it's not an example of the happy music/sad lyrics trope, it's genuinely celebrating the moment of realization that something is over and how important that moment is to moving on.

ABBA's maximalism delivers musically not only because of their indelible hooks but also because of how they're produced. Even when there is a lot going on (which is most of the time), very little is muddled or lost in the production. So when something magical happens, like when the keyboard joins the guitar a few measures into an after-chorus solo, you can't help but hear and be wowed by it. The hooks pop, which I guess is exactly what pop hooks are supposed to do.

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