Jack Johnson Just Not Up to Par in Latest Outing

Jack Johnson is not a professional surfer or a beach boy, and his summer is by no means endless. His music is a far leap from the clap-along bonfire “Barbara Ann” days of surfing grooves, but Johnson has always been able to catch our ear with his zen-like surfer style and lullaby approach to the tunes of the waves. However, while fans awaited the CD’s release with a heart full of hope and an ear for his silly style, Johnson has arrived with a limp in his step, disappointing listeners and critics worldwide.

The Hawaiian-born, surfer singer-songwriter has  returned with his new album “Sleep Through the Static,” released on February 5, stepping outside his traditional boundaries and attempting to add some spice to his style through controversial lyrics and the addition of electric guitar.

But while Johnson has spoken about the darker themes that inspired songs on “Sleep” and even publicly referenced his punk-rock past (a fact hard to believe, even for the most hardcore fans of his work), the album isn’t exactly a daring political statement. Certainly, some of the lyrics in his new songs provide more maturity than the Johnson of silly favorites such as “bubble Toes” and others inspired from a beloved childhood chimp in the “Curious George” soundtrack. However, most would advise Johnson to stick with his roots, to remain on the beach and in cartoons, leaving politics to the politicians.

While most of the songs on the album appear to be calm and historically Johnson-esque at first glance, upon review they are actually quite depressing. “All At Once” is a definite downer, with dark keyboard chords and lyrics that are overwhelmed by world conditions and a sense of loss of control. In fact, most of the content of “Sleep Through the Static” meditates on the Iraq war, with a seriousness that is made obsolete by Johnson’s hushed, calming voice.

However, more effective, and more true to his style are the aching love song “Angel” and “Go On,” a sweetly swaying meditation on his growing children. These songs prove to be more effective, dripping with emotion rather than attempting to shock Johnson’s more political audience.

So while the lyrics sometimes suffer from trying too hard, the melodies on “Sleep Through the Static” would appeal to Johnson’s most dedicated fans with his lulling harmonies and “sexy” voice. However, the CD’s lack of color has destined it to become background noise, something the “Sleep Through” rather than wholeheartedly enjoy.