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Jack Johnson’s Latest Just Average

Chris McGrady | Friday, February 15, 2008

Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery while listening to this album.

Jack Johnson’s latest, “Sleep Through the Static,” is more of what we have come to expect from the island pop-rocker. It’s filled with the same syrupy sweet, slow, smooth rhythms that drip from his guitar, and lull us into a gentle and tranquil state.

This album features the same signature sound that permeates the bulk of Johnson’s work. Full of bar chords that wax Caribbean and the silky-voice that is clearly meant for the beach, “Sleep Through the Static” will appeal to the average fan of the Hawaiian native.

This album sounds remarkably like his previous efforts (don’t they all?). The CD appears to be the kind you pop in for some good background music, something that doesn’t require your full attention. Maybe this is a good thing – but maybe it’s not?

The album lacks a signature song. There is no “Better Together” or “Banana Pancakes,” or even a “Flake” or “Bubble Toes.” These songs are the type of songs that seemed to make up the “filler” in Johnson’s other efforts.

Before all you island hoppers get your coconuts in a jumble, this isn’t to say the album is bad. Actually, it’s far from it. It’s a decent album for what it is – a soothing mix of love songs and island tunes.

Just don’t expect for any of these songs to be catchy in the way that “Banana Pancakes” was. It’s just not going to happen. Altogether the album is just plain forgettable. Not bad, not great – just there.

There are a few songs that assert themselves, albeit not impressively. If there is a “hit” on this album, it is “If I Had Eyes.” This is the sixth track on the album and has a borderline catchy piano-influenced sound. Like many songs on the album, Johnson swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric model. For this song, at least, it works.

The title song, “Sleep Through the Static” is probably the second-best effort on the album but just doesn’t have much going on. The song takes a political tone saying, “Who needs sleep when we’ve got love? Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs? Who needs please when we’ve got guns?” The song, however, is just not powerful enough to carry the anti-militarism message.

The song “Angel” is just in time for the season of love surrounding Valentine’s Day and is a nice little acoustic ditty. This song will likely find its way onto “Love Mixes” around the country, and rightfully so – Johnson seems to do his best work when writing lyrics about love.

Overall, the album is decent, but underwhelming. If only it had a few signature tracks, it would probably be a big seller. It’s good – just not good for Jack Johnson. But if background music is what you are after, this album is for you.

Contact Chris McGrady at cmcgrad1@nd.edu.