Adjust the Sails Give Us Their Worst

Emo is easily one of the most annoying possible mutations of punk or alternative music. It’s bad enough suffering through some 17-year-old suburban crybaby whining at the top of his lungs about how terrible his spoiled little brat life is. Fully grown adult beta males doing it? We’re talking nails-on-chalkboard territory.

Shane Hurst is a goofy doofus who moved to Atlanta late last year from Pasadena, Maryland, where apparently his musical project Adjust the Sails was a two-guy endeavor. As far as I can gather it’s mostly down to singer-songwriter Hurst now, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar while backed by drums and occasional other instruments. As evidenced on new album The Worst of Adjust the Sails (not a “best of” like the Airplane album but a hodgepodge of new songs and newly recorded older Bandcamp demos), he possesses that archetypical emo Muppet-like voice, regularly succumbing to high-pitched tuneless childish wailing that crescendos into bone-splintering screeches. He does the whole emo thing of dropping a “bullshit” or “damn” or “fucking” every 30 seconds, just to let you know that he’s, like, really fucking upset about all this fucking bullshit and stuff. He overpacks words into his songs as if every detail in his stupid personal life is worth repeating to the world. He tries hard to be funny, like with the title of “Look Ma! I’m Edgy (I Hate My Friends).” You just want him to leave, and soon. It’s basically adrenalized boy band fodder for self-obsessed teenage girls and guys who act like self-obsessed teenage girls, the obnoxious kind that sing along exaggeratedly to tripe like this, arms flailing in an effort to bring even more attention to themselves.

When Hurst breaks out into a fast-paced spoken confession 15 seconds into opening song “Sanity,” it’s a portentous sign of the painful listen that is to follow. Discarding the pat-on-the-back-and-a-gold-star that is “Intermission (Why I Do This)” – literally a minute and a half of voicemail testimonials and words of encouragement from fans to Hurst (what, are you Sally Field at the ’85 Oscars hopping up and down going, “You like me!”?) – it’s less than 25 minutes later that Hurst whines goodbye with “Goodbye.” That’s 25 minutes too many for me, but if you feel like forking over $20 plus shipping for a limited-edition vinyl edition of this brief therapy session, it can be ordered via Adjust the Sails’ Bandcamp page.