“Sugary sweet.” The epitome of an alliterative cliche. But damned if cliches don’t exist for a reason. “Cherry Coke” is the oral manifestation of “sugary sweet,” and it’s just as addictive and satisfying as its title promises.
The single, from Brooklyn quintet Answering Machine‘s forthcoming LP, Bad Luck. It follows the albums titular track, released in late 2019.
“‘Cherry Coke’ is a love song about fever dreams, bloody noses and candy canes,” guitarist and vocalist J.D. Fetcho says. “This one’s inspired by a love of Buddy Holly, 60’s pop music, and The Ramones.”
Not surprisingly, Fetcho nails his band’s tone. Buddy Holly and 60’s pop are dripping off the palpable, upbeat melodies that permeate the track, as well as and especially each vocal repeat of the line “Candy canes and cherry Coke.” Just as The Ramones took and broadened that genre, so to does Answering Machine here, building off the legacy of such acts.
The greatest and most empathetic joy of the single comes from the perpetual discord with which listeners of a certain age will undoubtedly identify. Fetcho sums it up neatly, saying “It’s for all the old folks who want to settle down but still have some fun.”
The desire is inherent in the opening line. “Looking through mirrors and smoke / To try and find some place to settle down,” a mission statement of knowing and wanting to get to a point of contentedly settled. But there’s a constant friction between that and a desire to still have fun, Frankly, to feel wild and free to fuck up until everything organically clicks into place or rolls on.
Early on there’s an antithetical request to be put into “Some place that’s never safe and sound.” It’s clear this isn’t just about finding one’s settled place, but an equally and equally ready to settle partner feeling the same. “Baby needs a new parasite,” Answer Machine sings, “Someone to keep me nervous through the night.” This lifestyle is perfectly summed up as “Sleeping off a bloody nose / Subway train was cutting close / You know you feel so close to home / A TV fever dream / Some psychotic fantasy.”
For the band and so many listeners, it’s this eventual perfect storm that ultimately equates to growing up. Wanting and compromising two disparate aspects of life, and hoping to luck into finding someone who wants the same at the same time.
We still get to be wild and free, but without so many crippling fears of failure and uncertainty. We get to live the basic joys of candy canes and Cherry Coke without the pratfalls or sellout stigma we used to associate with them.