1987, and it’s Just Like Heaven

Here at Underground, we are celebrating thirty years since the release of our first original collection, which looked to contribute to our founding philosophy of unorthodox, renegade and subversive style. In homage to the year that started it all, we have started a series that will look back on the aura of 1987; exploring the sound, sights and feel of a year that is vital to our history.

The Cure are an establishment in their own right. They are an epochal band that contribute to the melancholic mythology of the seventies, eighties and beyond. They are a band that vulnerably exposed the instability of the male condition: love, heartache, and dejection are all sung about in equal spread by a male lead, with Boys Don’t Cry providing the soundtrack to the volatility of masculinity. With a boisterous birds nest upon his head, lips smudged with a slather of rouge, and his pallid skin marked in contrast to his kohl darkened eyes, Robert Smith became the face of alternative music and by default, the spokesperson for a disaffected generation. The band were – and still are – a crescendo of styles. They coalesce post-punk, shoegaze, goth, dream-pop, synth-punk and perhaps a little psychedelia into a lovelorn, seductive but ultimately hopeless sound that is arguably matchless.

Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me was released as a double album by the band in 1987 and is an eclectic tale of love and loss. The kaleidoscopic album is experimental in its push through musical breaking points: song openings are dragged out and the listener is pummelled with sonic waves and droning vocals. The album explores many music soundscapes: there’s horns on “Hot Hot Hot” and “Why Can’t I Be You?”, “One More Time” is more lethargic with its futile flute and exhausted singer. Songs like “Fight” and “The Kiss” strike the listener with a lecherousy loud sound. The only way to summate the variety is that Kiss Me sounds like a Greatest Hits album as every song is so obviously different. When listening to the album there is, however, a subtle intake of breath until it reaches track number eight – which is arguably what the whole album comes down to.

‘Just Like Heaven’.

One of the band’s most iconic numbers in between ‘Lovecats’, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Friday I’m in Love’, the pinnacle post-punk-pop tune has been heralded as ‘[making] the album one the group’s very best.’

The song is grounded heavily in Robert’s own life and is about his childhood sweetheart Mary Poole. Robert met Mary when he was fourteen years old at school, and went out with her ‘because everyone else wanted to’. Nothing like a bit of old school romance. The pale poster-boy has not been shy when talking of Mary; he’s called her his ‘Cindy Crawford’ and has openly express his adoration for her:

‘Mary means so incomprehensibly much to me. I actually don’t think she has ever realized how dependant I’ve been of her during all these years we’ve been together. She’s always been the one that has saved me when I have been the most self-destructive, she’s always been the one that has caught me when I have been so very close to fall apart completely, and if she would have disappeared – I am sorry, I know that I’m falling into my irritating miserable image by saying it – then I would have killed myself.’

Robert may have hit the self-destruct button, but it was Mary’s remarkable resilience and continous faith in him that pushed him out the other side.

According to Robert, the song is about ‘hyperventilating – kissing and fainting to the floor’, and it definitely conjures up wild fantasies in the mind: the singer is completely overwhelmed by love, ‘spinning on that dizzy edge’ and ceaselessly ‘dancing in the deepest oceans’. This love for Mary transcends reality and deposits itself in this delightfully bittersweet song.

Robert wrote the tune when the two lived in a flat in North London. He began a strict regime of writing music fifteen days out of the month in order to curb his habitual drinking. The track remained as an instrumental in the hands of Robert, and only florusihed once he brought it to the studio in the South of France. When amongst his fellow bandmates, he was instantly struck by the forcefulness of drummer Boris William’s up-tempo patterns: ‘my demo was slower, but I loved the way Boris did it. He introduced a drum fill that gave me the idea of introducing the instruments one by one’. This process of staggering the sound set the standard for the album as well as the final version of the song itself.

Once back in the city, the Cure hooked back up with video director Tim Pope, who created a simple, yet arresting video that stands proud in the band’s oeuvre. Robert said in an interview that ‘Mary dances with me in the video because she was the girl, so it had to be her. This idea that one night like that is worth 1,000 words of drudgery’. Mary is the alluring fallen angel that appears to Robert in his lucid state. She literally is the girl of his dreams.

The video also revisits Robert’s place of inspiration for the song: the cliffs of England in South-East. Robert recalls an intoxicated memory that conjured up his dizzy and enchanting vision of love:

‘We’d been drinking and someone thought it would be cool to go for a walk […] But suddenly the fog came in and I lost sight of my friends and couldn’t  see my hand before my eyes. I thought I might fall down the cliff if I moved another  foot so I had to sit down until dawn. Later I heard my friends didn’t even look for  me.’ 

‘Just Like Heaven’ remains one of the greatest cult-love songs of all time. Produced in 1987, it has been covered countlessly since; it has been used in many films to portray the greatest of indie romances. If Pretty in Pink‘s prom finale had a music video, then it would definitely be to this song.