By Will Hermes
Updated March 10, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

In an oeuvre that reads like a thesis on indie-rock semiotics, fey Scots Belle and Sebastian balance pathos and pop self-consciousness miraculously — tearing from one eye, winking with the other. Lazy Line Painter Jane, a three-EP set released in the U.K. in ’97, is Belle and Sebastian at its best: nicking Velvet Underground melodies; confessing to stuffed animals; namechecking Elvis, Judy Blume, and a couple named Belle and Sebastian. Nowadays, about as true as musical heartrending gets. A