Sleep Through The Static, the Hawaiian guitar-strummer's follow up, isn't destined to match Dreams' sales figures. While a handful of cuts offer the soothing, elegant folk-pop that earned Johnson his fan-base - lead single 'If I Had Eyes' is probably his most immediate moment to date – too much of Static is drowsy, characterless and steeped in lethargy. The chipper 'Hope' benefits from a sprightly, toe-tapping beat, and 'Monsoon' features a nice bit of honky-tonk piano, but otherwise Static's songs are oddly homogeneous, tending to merge into one another. Grey and listless, they're more apt to conjure up images of a suburban bus terminal on a grey March morning than Johnson's balmy, sun-soaked homeland.
A greater problem is Johnson's inability – or, perhaps, unwillingness? – to alter his one-tone-fits-all delivery. He uses the same loose, languid drawl to damn the futility of war on the title track, examine his relationship woes on 'Same Girl', and, on 'Go On', tell us that "I get nervous when I fly. I'm used to walking with my feet". (Thanks for that fascinating insight, Jacky boy!). He shows no palpable emotion until the album's eleventh track, the brooding, claustrophobic 'They Do, They Don't', when the merest hint of anger creeps into his voice. Sadly, this flicker of passion is squandered on some vague, mealy-mouthed lyrics about the future being an "empty promise" and archaism offering "a dusty road back to nowhere".
The album's most telling moment comes half-way through, on the sombre, low-key jangle of 'Same Girl'. "How can you be so calm when the truth is that sometimes we live in the eye on the storm?" Johnson asks his frustratingly laid-back lover. After listening to 51 minutes of the relentlessly sluggish, one-paced Sleep Through The Static, it's tempting to suggest Johnson might ask the same question of himself.
> Click here for more album reviews, including Adele, Morrissey and Hot Chip