REVIEW - Tom Tikka And The Missing Hubcaps - 'Better Man' (Album - Minds Behind The Music Records)
The ever prolific Finnish singer-songwriter Tom Tikka returns this month with a new record label - Minds Behind The Music Records - and his second solo album 'Better Man'. Followers of this talented artist will know that 2021 saw Tom release three excellent records - the 'This Is My Happy Face' album and 'That's What Winston Churchill Said' EP under the Tom Tikka And The Missing Hubcaps moniker and the 'Life Of Grant' album with Antti Autio as The Impersonators - but any thoughts that this prodigious workrate might mean a decrease in quality would be mistaken; 'Better Man' is another fine album with ten tracks that expertly mix indie, power-pop, rock, straight-ahead pop tuneage and even a touch of soul and blues.
All the familiar characteristics of Tom's records are here; the superbly crafted song writing that sees slow-burn verses morph into soaring choruses with equally engaging middle-eights that dart in and out of the numbers, the great use of strings and vocal harmonies when the songs call for it, the concise and accomplished guitar work and the lyrics that range between deep melancholy and wry humour. The variety of styles on 'Better Man' is outstanding - there's the soul stompin' 'I'm Done With The Blues', the bluesy boogie of 'Ain't Life A Bitch', the straight-ahead pop of opener 'Hello Loneliness' and 'Snakebites', the 80s influenced 'Replayed', the soft-rock chug of single 'By 2022' and the harder-edged 'I've Got My Mind Set On Leaving' and finishes with the affecting ballad 'Here Comes The Fun'. Something, in fact, for everyone and all covered in a delicious pop sheen and production that brings out the best of Tom's songs.
Another tremendous addition to his already excellent oeuvre, 'Better Man' will hopefully get Tom's fine tuneage and catalogue out to a wider audience - the quality of his songwriting and releases certainly demand it. For those of you yet to sample Tom's work, 'Better Man' is a perfect introduction and should hook you in with its infectious tunes and fine playing and singing. His new label describes the album as containing 'hit after hit' but don't just take their word for it - give 'Better Man' a go and find out for yourselves.
'Better Man' is released tomorrow - May 20th 2022 - on Minds Behind The Music Records and will be available on all the major digital sites.