The three songs present on Tom Tikka and the Missing Hubcaps’ Working Class Voodoo are one step removed from rough hewn rock music and communicate a commitment to self expression in every minute of each song. A handful of factors prevent it from going completely in that direction. The production brings a level of polish to the trio of songs discouraging such developments and Tikka has orchestral sensibilities as a composer that rein in the rambunctious tendencies just enough to impose a tenuous sense of order over the performance. It isn’t an especially long song, it doesn’t even clear the four minute mark, but Tikka and his collaborators bring a full musical universe to life within a impressively small frame. 

”Working Class Hero” has a catchy design that you notice on first hearing, but it isn’t your basic simple-minded pop melody. The guitar work and vocal develop along complementary lines but rarely mimic each other outright. There’s a level of songwriting command necessary to make a track like this resonate enough to revisit and you can hear it in how Tikka threads the disparate strands compromising the track into a coherent whole. The drums, bass, guitars and vocal achieve what some bands call a “weave”, each part interlocking with the other, the whole far greater than the sum of its individual parts. 

“Daytime Suffering” shows, if the first song didn’t, that Tikka and the Missing Hubcaps already possess an identifiable style unlike anyone else working today. The band takes a on point instrumental break near the song’s end that enriches the overall effect of this cut. The language and phrasing of “Daytime Suffering” belongs to Tikka and his cohorts alone and any influences are thoroughly subsumed into their own vision and experiences. It is nonetheless familiar. Tikka and the Missing Hubcaps aren’t aiming to remake the musical wheel, but they choose to use the required materials in their own way. This sets them apart. 

The last track included on Working Class Voodoo, “What Is Love?”, has a distinctly different musical mood than the first two songs. Some will think this EP might have benefited from an uptempo track amongst the three present on the release, but this song is well in keeping with the identity they fashion for themselves over the course of the first two tracks. The guitar playing is deliberate, yet placed in all the right places and fills the track with the bulk of its musical drama. The drumming, however, is key as well – it punctuates all the right points and imbues the performance with even more emphasis. 

Tom Tikka’s musical journey continues with this brief but exceptional EP release that features his critical strengths while minimizing his occasional weaknesses. It works as both a promising reaffirmation of what his fans value most about his artistry and works, as well, as an excellent introduction to his musical art for newcomers. Tom Tikka and the Missing Hubcaps near the midway portion of 2020 with an important release under their belt that contains future mainstays of their live performances.

Michael Rand

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