Jack Johnson is a frustrating artist, because he could so easily make good and interesting music. He has a gift for sweet melodicism is rivalled by few this side of Chris Martin, and his ability to maintain an aesthetic is staunchly impressive. However, for the better part of 15 years that aesthetic has been laid-back surf-rock, and with Seasick Dream he shows no signs he intends to change that. Apparently written for the upcoming film View From A Blue Moon, the opening minor-key ukulele picking indicates that Johnson may have chosen some thornier, more interesting territory, but then the song quickly shifts into gently strummed chords and his relaxed vocals.
His voice manages to convey a fair amount of emotion, with a sense of contentment fitting well with the lyrics about a surfing lifestyle. The song picks up a bit of steam towards the end, as a half-time drum beat and an jangly electric guitar following the lead melody enter the mix, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that if Johnson would just try some heavier instrumentation, or a faster tempo, or even more stripped back intimacy, the track would be more interesting. As such, whilst it’s a perfectly satisfactory song, with a catchy ukulele melody that sticks in the brain (although the vocal melody does no such thing), it’s distinctly middling, lacking in anything to set it apart from the rest of Johnson’s work. More of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when an artist has been doing the same for 15 years, it may be time to try something new.