The Christmas holiday is here with us again and Santa is calling. “Merry Christmas” posters are going up everywhere just in case someone didn’t get the memo. Christmas songs are either being composed or old Carols are being recreated and imbued with some modern musicality. Sadly though, most are about nothing else except the old, exhausted narrative of snow falling and kids dancing and all those other Christmas platitudes that have honestly grown so painfully bland and uninspiring.

That is perhaps why Tom Tikka and The Missing Hubcaps’ single Just Like Xmas (Love Is War) is so refreshingly pleasant and inspiring to listen to. The song is like a much needed breath of fresh air of which we didn’t have the slightest idea we needed. The dreamily soothing melody and the gentle strums of the guitar that usher in the song sound a lot like Christmas; Cushy, emotive and intimately celebratory.

With his soft, silvery voice, Tikka deviates from the predominant theme of most other songs this festive season. Having gone through a divorce that condemned him to spending his first Christmas alone and without his children with him, the Finnish singer wastes no time introducing us to his unique, unfortunate Christmas situation this year. He does this in the opening lines when he mournfully sings “I see the snowflakes falling, they cover up the trees, I feel just like cuddling you but you are not here.” He farther laments “Another lonely heartache, though the season’s dear.”

The direness of Tikka’s predicament is however laid bare when he says “I have come to the conclusion, that Santa just ain’t real.” It’s tough for Tikka having to spend time away from his kids and partner during the Christmas festivities and the ensuing solitude is clearly burdening to him. He is reminiscent of the good times like in the lyrics “I wander around the streets that we walked hand in hand listening to John Lennon” and wishes that his lover will “Remember the love letters in the sand” and “Remember that I’m your man.”

Tikka closes out the song amid a symphony of horns and thumping Timpani drums by wishing that “Christmas would be all year round.” Tikka’s decision to openly and vulnerably write about his loss of love and family during this festive season is very bold and touches a chord in the listener’s heart. The emotional honesty of the song connects with the audience and offers much more thematic appeal to the Christmas song unlike most other songs which have become a little too ritualistic and lacking in creative novelty. Tikka’s single indeed sounds Just like Christmas. Or is it Xmas? Yes, the latter.

–Keith Dujour