As much as Betty loves to revel in irony and attitude, the Washington-bred threesome often come across as unabashed pop romantics on their latest release. Granted, their neo-psychedelic adaptation of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" isn't exactly guileless, but there is something innocent and endearing about the trio's multitiered remembrance of pop past.

And the same could be said for the album's opening track, "It Girl," a swirling celebration of zeitgeist-defining celebrityhood in which the flashiest flash in the pans are honored for their 15 minutes of flair. After all, it isn't easy being "amorous, dangerous, glamorous, scandalous." The curious linkage between fame, fashion and fortune is a subject that Betty treats with great affection and not a little style of its own.

Still, it's not as if they've donned rose-colored glasses. "Kissing You," a punk cum metal refrain, is lacerating in more ways than one, while "Greedy" is a song about uncontrollably voracious desire. Then there's "Naughty Naughty Nadia," a gothic horror story with sexual overtones: "Your cleavage won't protect you/ nor will your pretty blue eyes/ the punishment is fitting/ and worthy of your crime."

Not all of the songs are fully realized. Some merely offer the trio a chance to let off some funk-powered steam or indulge their imaginations. But the best tracks are alternately laced with enough sugar and spite to warrant repeat spins.

Appearing Saturday at the Birchmere. To hear a free Sound Bite from Betty, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)

CAPTION: Betty mines the best of the pop vein on "Betty 3."