Music has fired Tom Tikka’s imagination since his sixth year when he recalls hearing Paul Anka’s “Lonely Boy” for the first time. Like many musicians and artists inspired by their chosen medium at an early age, this passion for music only grew over time and Tikka eventually achieved a degree of prominence as a member and important songwriting voice in the group Carmen Gray. The band wrote and recorded a number of albums before folding in 2013, but Tikka soon joined another group The Impersonators and has enjoyed considerable success playing under that banner. Tom Tikka and the Missing Hubcaps is, despite its credit, a solo effort through and through, but make no mistake – Tikka and his fellow musicians play as a cohesive unit rather than sounding like Tikka is leading them by their figurative nose.
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They definitely come across as an unified musical force in the EP’s first song. “Working Class Voodoo” cops the language of rock music, American style, and co-opts it for its own use, but it never sounds like ham-fisted mimicry and the songwriting demonstrates a level of tastefulness you might not expect on initial impression. Tikka’s voice doesn’t have any sort classical singing beauty, but he’s convincing and the harmonies emerging as the song continues enhances the lead vocal without ever overshadowing it.
That same propensity towards harmony vocals doesn’t have the same positive effect on “Daytime Suffering”. The song opens with those harmonies and they have a slightly jarring and discordant sound that may be deliberate when considering the song title and general demeanor of the lyrical content. Electric guitar has an, arguably, stronger role to play in bringing this song off than it does with the title track and Tikka even works in a meaningful instrumental break near the conclusion. It isn’t far removed from the same musical territory inhabited by the title song, but it constitutes enough of a shift in gears to hold listener’s attention.
Working Class Voodoo ends with the track “What Is Love?”. Tikka and the band ride a mid-tempo groove once again but this track has a clearer orchestrated build than the first two cuts. It’s for sure an example of a song’s individual parts adding up to something greater as, if you break this down to a micro level, there’s nothing exceptional about its individual musical parts. Arrange these interlocking elements together, however, in a coherent composition and it plays like a slow rock song rife with drama. Tikka wrestles with weighty questions in many songs and the plaintive question of the track’s title makes his songwriting intentions clear. It’s a great way to end the EP.
Working Class Voodoo has one grievous flaw – there isn’t enough of it. It’s a good problem to have, as problems go. There’s little reason to doubt that this will gain the notice of many the clamor for a long studio release will send Tikka back into the studio with the Missing Hubcaps in tow. Until then, however, Working Class Voodoo provides a memorable opening taste.