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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Jack Johnson is a dull boy

His new album is just more of the same

Published: February 15, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

dc02150805.jpgIt all depends on what you like. Whether you like change or not. Whether you prefer things to progress or stay stagnant.

I’m not talking about personality. I discussing the new Jack Johnson album, Sleep Through the Static, which was released February 5, 2008.

The album cannot be considered a step forward for this Hawai’i native. There are differences certainly, including the subject matter of his songs (including the Iraq war and global warming) and his more frequent use of electric guitar. Yet these differences are quickly balanced by more love songs for his wife and his acoustic tracks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am most certainly a big Jack Johnson fan. I’m a Southern California native, how can I not love his references to the DLG and the fact that all his songs remind me of the laid-back surfer lifestyle I left behind. I just felt that In Between Dreams was such a big step forward for him musically and was excited to see what he would do with this new album.

I like the album, but so many of the songs have equivalents from his other releases. For example “They Do, They Don’t” is incredibly similar to “It’s All Understood” from his first album Brushfire Fairytales.

Also, none of his songs are as outstanding as his hits from his other albums. “Flake,” “Bubble Toes,” “Taylor,” “Banana Pancakes,” and “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” were all phenomenal tracks. Sleep Through the Static just sounds like his other albums.

It could actually be considered a step backward actually. I feel that the album is comparable to On and On which, in my opinion, was his worst album to date. On and On seemed much more like a part two to Brushfire Fairytales. I feel that Sleep Through the Static is In Between Dreams’ part two in the same way. There is no musical evolution. They all sound the same.

The album is good, in the same way that On and On is. It’s the same ‘ol Jack Johnson that we have all come to love. Personally I prefer my artists to progress with their music, but I suppose that there is something comforting in staying stagnant.

One of my favorite things about Jack Johnson’s music is his lyrics. I was very excited about the Iraqi War piece as well as the one about global warming. Also his lyrics shine through in his other songs as well, “Go On” is a beautiful song about Johnson watching his children grow up. The album lyrically shows that Johnson has taken a stand on some issues and is still the same family man he’s always been.

Overall, Sleep Through the Static is a good album, just not a great one. The album stands up to my Jack Johnson standards, but certainly did not meet my expectations. I think that his fans will be pleased with it overall, again it just depends on whether you want Jack to sound the same or to move forward with his tunes. I would definitely recommend the album to anyone who’s a Jack Johnson fan or anyone who just wants to feel like they are relaxing on the beach in the warm Californian sun.