Sometimes I wonder if the Pernice Brothers ought to rehearse under suicide watch. One of their T-shirts bears the slogan i hate my life, and the mini comic that came with preordered copies of their latest and possibly greatest CD, Discover a Lovelier You (Ashmont), depicts the band sitting around backstage debating the best ways to die. Then there’s the lyrics, like the chorus of “Saddest Quo,” from the new album: “There’s a train wreck / Picking up survivors from a plane crash / On the TV live and it’s a sad status quotient / Waiting for the sky to fall.” If this brand of malaise sounds vaguely familiar, well, singer-guitarist Joe Pernice did also write a bildungsroman a clef loosely based on the Smiths’ Meat Is Murder for the 33 1/3 book series. But I don’t buy it–someone as depressed as Pernice makes himself out to be would have a hard time changing channels on the cable box, much less writing crushingly beautiful, near perfect pop tunes like “There Goes the Sun,” the lead track on Lovelier You. The song is what you’d imagine a Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello collaboration might sound like if one didn’t already exist; it could be a great lost radio hit from either 1966 or 1981. Negative and sad, definitely, but unmistakably redemptive and transcendent as well. Royal Gun opens. Fri 7/22, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Hannah Thompson.