The The – Uncertain Smile

For the longest time I would get this song in my head and not know who it was that sung it. This may have been in the primitive days of the internet, but I seem to finally remember getting this song in my head at work one day and doing a search on the lyrics and finding out it was a band I already liked. Pretty sure I owned ‘Dusk’ by that point, because I always loved Dogs of Lust, and I was pretty happy when I found out this was a The The song. I think I always thought it was Lloyd Cole for some reason, though in my defense, Matt Johnson’s vocal style isn’t all that different from Lloyd Cole.

Anyway, that day I picked up their singles collection, which is really good and recommended if you want to get into some classic The The. Unfortunately, the version of this song on that collection is not that version, and they have some flute parts in place of the staircase guitars following the chorus, which you’ll hear at about the 1:30 part. I can’t hear this song without hearing that guitar part in my head, and it always vexes me a bit when I hear the other version. A rare somewhat favorite band that I’ve never seen live.

12 Responses to “The The – Uncertain Smile”


    This is amazing. I have seen The The, and they were phenomenal. I never expected I would have seen any band that you hadn’t. Not even one.

    I presume that the version you are used to is the album version/single version from the album. The flute mix is the original 12 inch that was rerecorded for Soul Mining. I like the album version better in many ways (also the one I am most used to), but I do have the original 12 inch on vinyl.

    The rerecorded version I think is the one with the piano solo from the Squeeze guy, or maybe both of them have him on it.

    “A broken soul stares from a pair of watering eyes/uncertain emotions force an uncertain smile”

    One of the greatest lyrics of all time. I think it might need to be The The week! Hey, what about doing a week of the bands that have the worst possible names in the search window era?

  • My fave part is the melody that snakes at around 0:17, and then every time it comes back, like at 2:41 after the lyrics that crush me. The one that gets me every single time. I think this is the same part you talk about, I just can’t really say what it sounds like. I do like the synth and the other parts on the original. It is just hard because the original for me is the album one (probably for you too), but for the oldter hard core, they hate the piano solo. It has been awhile, so I just listened to both.

  • True story: I had a friend that would always ask the record shop girls whether they alphabetized “The The” under “The” or “The”.


  • I love how many ways I say it.

    Thee Thuh

    THUH thuh

    Tha Thuh

    Thuh Thuh

    Record Shop Girls is either the band name of a retro girl group or a post-punk wanky bunch of English dudes. It must be true.

  • That’s a great idea for the tough to Google bands. I’ve already got a few pretty good ideas.

    I think they stopped touring before I started going to a lot of concerts. I think in the 25 years I lived in LA I went to about 20 shows. I’ve been to more than that this year already. I’ve averaged about 50 per year for the last couple years, but when most are within walking distance, it makes things easier.

    PP, you’re talking about the same part of the song that I’m talking about. This is pretty much the version I remember from the radio, but the flute version that’s like 9 minutes long is on the singles compilation that I have.

  • Yeah, the comments on YouTube for the long version, a lot of those guys don’t like this one as much. It is funny- all about what you grew up with. It would have been cool if Marr were on the tour I went to, but he had just left before that leg or maybe never toured for Dusk.

    Sweet Bird of Truth=amazing
    Kingdom of Rain=amazing

    I wish Sinead had guested on more tracks in her heyday. She easily could put any song over the top when she was on.

  • zombie rotten mcdonald

    Of course, there’s no real music scene in LA.

  • Zombie, speaking of which, I posted that No Age song below for you.

    Boston is not really a big college town.

  • zombie rotten mcdonald

    Johnny Marr plays on the newest Robyn Hitchcock, btw.

  • Really? I love love love love JM and RH!

  • zombie rotten mcdonald

    Nick Lowe, Peter Buck, and John Paul Jones also.

    “Propeller Time”. He says it was recorded in 6 days and mixed in 3 years.

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