Certain Songs #1159: The Miss Alans – “The Indifference”

Album: Smack The Horse
Year: 1990

It’s a weird thing about song sequencing: I’ve often wondered if Smack The Horse would have been a better album had it started with “Skeleton” –> “The Indifference” instead of “The Shiny Unfeeling” –> “Yellow Gardens.”

Partially because “Skeleton” was the perfect kind of slow burn prelude/intro song like Pavement’s “We Dance” or The Church’s “Fly.” Mostly because it would have ended with the amazing “I Hear Horses” instead of the perfectly fine “Quoted Futures,” and I love albums that end big. Blame who’s next.

That said, when you have a “Shiny Unfeeling,” how can you not lead off with it? So, they probably made the right choice.

What that meant was putting the more psychedelic stuff on the second side, as “The Indifference” only made sense following “Skeleton,” rising slowly from the sea on waves of Manny Diez guitar and phased vocals over Ron’s slicing tambourine/rim beat, slowly building and building.


In the sea the man that begs and borrows
For the will that feeds the plastic taste
Hatred it begs you
Seizing perfect life harmony
Lord but not like the seeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaa
Here lies the seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaa

It’s my favorite thing, what they do on the word “sea.” Jay playing triplets in perfect lockstep with Ron and the piano accents (Jay & Manny together, credited as “Lester Angel“), it would be cool enough, but the lush ocean of harmonies that resolve into a happy sigh of “yeahhhh” is lovely and life-affirming, while remaining totally trippy at the same time.

“The Indifference” is a song that rises and falls and rises and falls, you know, like the sea, until Manny tosses a quick guitar solo and after one last glorious harmony-drenched blissout about the sea, Scott points something out.

The sea it is so farrrrr
From the world
The world
The world
The world
The world
The world
The wo-rld

Only it sounds like he’s singing “the whoa” over and over again like he’s channelling Keanu Reeves.

Outside of “The Shiny Unfeeling,” “The Indifference” was my early favorite song on Smack The Horse, a short gorgeous tone poem that also remained eternally mysterious.

“The Indifference”

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