Nimble in his execution but never rushed in his words, Tom Tikka is a melodic force to be reckoned with in the song “Dismal Day,” the closing anchor in his new record with The Missing Hubcaps, Insane. There’s something a little labored about the delivery Tikka employs for this fifth and final tune in the tracklist of Insane, but even without the assistance of The Missing Hubcaps behind him, there’s never a moment in which he seems out of focus at all. He’s got a charisma that I can’t get enough of, and if you check out his new record, you’re going to see exactly what I’m talking about.
Insane boasts a very similar aesthetical framework to Working Class Voodoo, the first extended play that Tom Tikka dropped in 2020 but with tracks like “Good Ol’ Stupid Me” and “Sweet Sugar” sporting a little heavier a harmonic finish compared to their siblings on the rookie EP. I get the impression we’re supposed to be picking up on the pop sensibilities here more than we are any of the other artistic components, but with guitars the size of skyscrapers everywhere we turn, it’s hard to completely get away from the rock ethos that purveys every exciting moment.
The mixture of slowed-down songs like “Dismal Day” and “Sweet Sugar” with bludgeoning tracks like “Summer Means New Love” and “Driving Me Insane” shows off a lot of depth for Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps, but I don’t know that any of this material was placed on the record simply to amplify specific aspects of the band’s sound. There’s a well-rounded construction to every bit of music we find in Insane, and while it’s definitely an indie release in every category and department that actually count for something, there’s no reason why any of this content couldn’t score some FM airplay over the summer season.
There’s definitely a lot of personal investment in “Sweet Sugar” and “Summer Means New Love” that translates not only through the lyrics but the music as well, and it’s in this way that Tikka verifies his ability to get exposed before the audience without backing out halfway. He’s trying to put his feelings into melodic revelry here, and even if it’s a bit more minimalist in stylization than what his band is capable of breaking off (with the right budget and time to record, that is), it’s as much of a juggernaut as the extended play format can actually provide for.
MORE ON TOM TIKKA: https://impersonatorsmusic.com/
Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps have been on a bit of a hot streak in 2020, and if you ask me (and a lot of other critics who have been following their ascent lately), I believe that Insane is the most complete and hearty look into their collective skillset we’ve had the chance to hear so far. The bottom line with this EP? With or without the searing strings of “Summer Means New Love” and lumbering riffage of “Driving Me Insane,” Tikka is a true crooner, and his voice alone makes this the kind of record no pop buff wants to put on after hearing it for the first time.
by Bethany Page