I hated "Heartbreak Beat" when it came out. I'd already been a dyed-in-the-wool Psychedelic Furs fan, enchanted by their mix of hook-laden pop, Bowie-ish melodrama and punk-informed simplicity, and smitten with virtually perfect singles like "Love My Way." And comparable to their fellow countrymen in The Clash, while the Furs were still a British band, there was something inherently New York about them as well (although in a completely different way than Messrs. Strummer, Jones, Simonon et al.) Where the Clash latched onto New York's burgeoning hip-hop community, the `Furs -- with their arty drone and aura of languid cool -- seemed like a progression from New York's own Velvet Underground (although I suppose Sonic Youth probably has a greater claim to that). Richard Butler and Tim Butler (the band's fraternal core) even lived on St. Marks Place -- across the street from one another, I believe -- for a number of years. To this day, listening to Talk Talk Talk, Forever Now and their entirely underrated, eponymous debut instantly remind me of walking around the then-still rough hewn, art-slathered streets of SoHo in the early 80s.
It wasn't to last, of course, and I blame John Hughes. After appropriating "Pretty in Pink" for the title of one of his less-realized films (what? Am I wrong? "Pretty in Pink" is no "Sixteen Candles," much less "Breakfast Club," although it does trump "Some Kind of Wonderful"), the `Furs suddenly experienced an uptick in exposure, and got a rigorous makeover to suit it. By the time of 1987's Midnight to Midnight (the album which spawned the single, "Heartbreak Beat"), the band's sound had become polished and overproduced and it looked like they started taking wardrobe tips from Liza Minelli and Judas Priest. I remember buying the album during my sophomore year of college and being veritably heartbroken, appropriately enough.
Where before their music either pulsed pugnaciously or arrived majestically, this record oozed out of my speakers like a viscous syrup (not in a good way). Another great band ruined.
I dutifully appended "Heartbreak Beat" to the mixtapes I was making at the time, but I never truly warmed to it. The video below, I imagine, was meant to convey the wild, hedonistic spirit of the band's adopted New York City, but much like the record that spawned it, it's all over-stylized and inorganic. See below.
I've talked about it in greater depth before, but to really see the `Furs in New York City, you have to rewind back to "Run and Run" off Forever Now, which shows both the band and Manhattan in a far more realistic (and endearing) light.
To be fair, the band did manage one more great single after Midnight to Midnight, that being the sublime "All That Money Wants."