Trip Shakespeare have nothing to do with any music produced since about 1973, their name is precious, and when singer Matt Wilson gets all fired up he's liable to come out firmly in favor of snow. But after the dopey and overwrought Are You Shakespearienced?, the band's new album and major-label debut Across the Universe is far better than it has any right to be: of the eleven songs, seven or eight have a ferocious melodic kick. The band still traffics in a very weird sensibility, a combination of late-60s jangly guitars and a decidedly prepunk choice of lyrical subject matter, but Wilson has revealed himself as a somewhat off-kilter genius, a master of driving guitar lines and ineffable melodies. His lyrics are occasionally insufferable, but check out "Drummer Like Me": "Got a friend with a drum machine / He's got rhythm and taste / He says I live in the seventies / And I can be replaced." It's a nice bit of self-awareness. And I'm convinced that "The Slacks" is a song about condom use. Wilson, his brother Dan, and bassist John Munson do the vocals, and all are apparently well trained in voice, which means that they sometimes confuse good singing with good singing, if you get my meaning. But it's a hot record, and growth like this is unusual. Chicago's own Farmers open. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.