“At this point in my life I weigh about 190lbs and my ear hairs are getting longer. I also have a couple of kids. My wife popped them out, but I helped. Some of the songs on this album are about making babies. Some of the songs are about raising them. Some of the songs are about the world that these children will grow up in; a world of war and love, and hate, and time and space.” Annoyed yet? That’s how Hawaiian slacker-rock singer-songwriter Jack Johnson describes his new album, which was recorded, he tells us, “onto analog tape machines powered by the sun.” I suppose I have no real reason to hate on Johnson; he is, as comedian Rush Limbaugh would say, “eco-extreme,” and he doesn’t have dreads, but he does wear Birkenstocks—that is, when he’s not barefoot. Sleep Through the Static is yet another collection of somnolent, semi-sociopolitical-themed folk-rock in the tradition of ‘70s AM radio. Johnson’s political observations are often literal and simplistic, like on the opening track, “All at Once.” He does, however, offer one nice, long stream-of-conscious couplet on the reggae-hued title track, even if it’s already been said: “Shock and awful thing to make somebody think that they have to choose pushing for peace, supporting the troops/And either you’re weak or you use brute force-feed the truth is we say not as we do.” Songs like “Same Girl” and “While We Wait” are mercifully brief but they’re also mercilessly boring. “She gives me presents with presence alone,” Johnson sings on the two-minute “Angel,” which equates birthing babies to “making angels.” Gross. Perhaps the C.I.A. should consider replacing waterboarding with protracted listening sessions of the former pro-surfboarder’s latest instead.
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