It’s a wonderful thing when an intimate song can bring such universal joy. In the new single, “Just Like Xmas (Love Is War)” from Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps a raw, human condition evolves into this splendor of life, a celebration of youth. Poignant with is brazen horns and rumbling drums, Tikka’s sonic poem is sentimental and forward-thinking. A follow-up to his the new EP Insane, “Just Like Xmas (Love Is War)” is a riveting holiday standout.

MORE ON TOM TIKKA: https://www.tomtikka.com/

Starting out like a heartbreaker, Tikka sings from a different perspective. Most holiday and Christmas tracks have an overpowering embellishment, they try to oversell the sleigh bells, the grand sound of the holidays. This one starts out a bit understated and expands as the song goes along. I think Tikka, as the song’s narrator and sharing his own story, is having a rough go of it. He’s not full of holiday cheer. He’s given up on love and given up on the belief that Santa is real. He’s definitely exhibiting the characteristics of someone down on his luck, dwelling in solitude. The world is against him, he doesn’t feel like celebrating.

The mood of the voice isn’t all sorrow and tears – the beautiful electronic keys bedrock has some moving moments. I noticed, too, that Tikka mixes in some horns and even a deep-almost gong-like percussion. Tikka’s bio notes his influences as The Beatles and Paul Anka – you can hear the vintage, nostalgia between the measures. It could be that I’m subconsciously associating that with Christmas songs in general, but I felt like Tikka’s imagery is very folk singer-like, very philosophical. I think it’s like a 60s pop song fusing with the Laurel Canyon sound in its own unique blend.

Tikka has a gripping voice. When he delivers the line another lonely heartache, as a listener, I felt his anguish. I think he hasn’t moved on as much as he might have convinced himself. He’s still tethered to a relationship that has been severed. I also felt his triumph, especially after you hear the regal-sounding horns, when he sings the very last words: I wish Christmas could be on the whole year round. At first I thought he said I wish Christmas could be on all year round, so I had to listen a few times. It’s a different way than I would expect to hear it.

“Just Like Xmas (Love Is War)” is unexpected and that’s what make it’s so intriguing. I think this is definitely a song that deserves to make the yearly rotation, and to be so bold as to listen all year. I enjoyed the way it transported me to different feelings and made me explore some different memories. I think this song is on the cusp, especially in a year of so many unknowns, of mirroring the highs and lows we endure. If you’re looking to further engage in Tikka’s discography, you can also check out his work with the short-lived Carmen Gray (“Lost In My Mind Again”, “Gates Of Loneliness” and “Life Can Be Beautiful”). Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps have also released the EP Working Class Voodoo.

Michael Rand

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