Incomprehensible

Incomprehensible: adjective not able to be understood.

I’ve had a few little love affairs
They didn’t last very long and they’ve been pretty scarce
I used to think that was sensible
It makes the truth even more incomprehensible
‘Cause everything is new
And everything is you
And all I’ve learned has overturned
What can I do…

– Abba, ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’, 1981 (recorded 1980)

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ peerless songwriting ability rightfully dominated the pop scene from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.  ‘Lay All Your Love On Me‘ is another example of the seemingly effortless process by which they created expertly-crafted pop lyrics.  The fact that they were writing in a second language of which they had a strong command assisted them to pare down the lyrical content of their songs to deceptively simple structures, but the gift of many of Abba’s lyrics is the fertile emotion contained within.  The song has a fairly traditional theme: a jealous woman’s plea to a partner with a wandering eye, but the trick lies in the establishment of the narrator’s surprise at the speed with which her romantic guard has been circumvented: as Agnetha sings, ‘I still don’t know what you’ve done with me / A grown-up woman should never fall so easily’.  The taut, sparse synths propel the beat without overpowering the lyrics, and the innovative vocal fades at the end of each verse add a pleasing sci-fi excitement and dramatism.  It must’ve been a surefire floor-filler in the discos.

The song featured on the 1980 album Super Trouper, but was never intended to be released as a single.  It was eventually issued in 12-inch format in several countries to considerable acclaim.  In the UK it reached number 7 in the pop charts in July 1981, breaking a run of two previous chart-topping Abba singles from the previous year, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Super Trouper’.  The specialised 12-inch format reduced sales somewhat, and in the end this was the first Abba single not to reach the UK top 5 since 1975’s ‘S.O.S.’ (and that only just missed, at number 6).

There was no official Abba video shot for the track, but one was cobbled together at the time from other Abba performances.  I’m not 100% sure the video below is the same as the 1981 issue, but it illustrates the song fairly well.

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