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The first impression that Portland duo Quasi’s Featuring Birds makes is that of a happy-go-lucky pop record with catchy melodic vocals and, thanks to a snazzy ’70s organ, chiming, cheerful accompaniment. But upon closer examination, things aren’t as rosy as they seem on the group’s sophomore album. Ex-spouses Sam Coomes (formerly of Heatmiser) on keyboards and guitar and drummer Janet Weiss (presently with Sleater-Kinney) have plenty of emotional territory to cover, and neither seems to mind sharing the caustic observations found in Coomes’ lyrics. Quasi’s songs are tempered by a glossy coating that often seems carnival-like, resulting from the pairing of Coomes’ fuzzy instrumentation with Weiss’ versatile percussion. Irony is the phantom third member of this band, and nowhere is it more apparent than during the track “I Never Want to See You Again,” in which upbeat vaudevillian organ runs complement thoughts such as “We purchase pleasure, pay for it with hurt/And we rarely get our money’s worth.” Weiss adds occasional backup vocals throughout the record and tentatively takes the lead on the bleak, compelling ballad “Tomorrow You’ll Hide.” There’s a full range of downbeat emotions on Featuring Birds, from frustration to self-flagellation to resignation, all set to raucous, joyous melodies. As commonplace as it is to hear sad songs played sadly, Quasi proves that playing them happily is even more biting. With Sea Tiger at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $6. (202) 667-7960. (Amy Domingues)