Silkworm’s new album, Lifestyle (Touch and Go), isn’t a return to form, exactly. Though it’s a major improvement over 1998’s disappointingly flat and half-baked Blueblood, and though it may in fact be their best album ever, it’s different from anything they’ve done in their 13-year career. Intellectual exercises like “Contempt”–a laconic adaptation of Jean-Luc Godard’s film, set like the original in Capri–are extremely well executed, but other songs seem to come from closer to home, and they’re the ones that pack the greatest punch. “Plain” and “Roots” make specific references to Missoula, Montana, where guitarist Andy Cohen and bassist Tim Midgett grew up: the first looks back on a time when the narrator felt trapped there by his own lack of ambition, but in the second the singer longs to go back and “stand on the Higgins Bridge / As the lights go down / Just watching the river flow / On our last night in town.” One of Cohen’s prettiest songs, “Roots” is played acoustic with no percussion, and though elsewhere drummer Michael Dahlquist thunders along like John Bonham regardless of the mood, Silkworm’s sound often reflects the wide-open spaces of their youth–quite a switch from their early work as a quartet, which was marked by the dueling guitar work of Cohen and former member Joel Phelps. Neil Young’s slow-burn lyricism is still a big influence–that’s especially evident in the wrenching guitar solo that opens “That’s Entertainment”–but these guys have never sounded more comfortable in their own skins. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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