Kicking off a three-minute alt-rock track with the regal sound of a trumpet is a bold move. Following it with a guitar riff that could be the only music in any action film makes a song seem even more dangerous. “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” is one of those songs that fits this very specific mold, and the first 30 seconds of it alone stays stuck in the mind for some time.
John McCrea, the band’s lead singer, lists off all of the desirable traits he looks for in a woman with a monotonous tone, but it fits the band’s grimy feel. Citing specific qualifications like having their meet-cute occur at Citi Bank to her having a mind as sharp as a tack, his checklist seems nearly impossible to complete. These absurdities are intentional though, since McCrea stated that the song’s about the bizarreness of human mating rituals.
Being the first single off of their fourth studio album, Comfort Eagle, it’s intent was to be at least a slight representation of what the entirety of the rest of the record would be like— by first listen, assumptions are made that the album would follow their generic sound. This ended up being true, since critics noted it to be a quality album with a striking similarity to the prior three. This observation can be seen on “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” alone. Emphasizing heavy bass and vocals that sound conversational is a Cake trademark, and this hit single doesn’t let go of the usage of these.