The Impersonators – “Rodeo”

Wow – where to start with this release? I have been a fan of The Impersonators since hearing their single “Cloud Nine” some months back – and their latest release, “Rodeo”, is in keeping with what I expect out of this duo made up of Tom Tikka and lyricist Antti Autio – great arrangement, great writing, excellent musicianship and singing, and a tight, fully layered production. Even in an era that has produced very few big sounding rock bands, The Impersonators sound massive here. A crafty mix of symphonic pop and art-rock, the single contains flashes of progressive and retro flavors in relatively equal measure.

All is set to vocal hooks so gigantic they won’t fit into your favorite radio station, and an almost devilish sense of narration. Are they being serious or ironic, or both with “Rodeo”, which tackles the trials and tribulations of a first time relationship.  The Impersonators’ secret weapon is its mixture of pop hooks and rock sounding anthems — much of which is down to front-man Tom Tikka, who is probably one of the most underrated singers and songwriters working today.

The Impersonators are savvy enough to know that the line between familiarity and evolution is a fine one, so they manage skillfully to navigate change while hewing to their basic template. On “Rodeo” many of the duo’s familiar elements are present, to match Tikka’s soaring tenor and rousing, triumphant choruses to the crystalline guitars and surprisingly expansive string arrangements that underpin them.

The songs itself jumps out of the box with spirited harmonies, and drives inexorably to those yearning, multi-layered choruses that The Impersonators do so well, perfect for singing emotively with an impassioned will. Once the choruses are hit, “Rodeo” bursts into a sonic widescreen panorama. This has to be one of the best, most complex song arrangements The Impersonators have ever written.

It piles on the instrumental and vocal layers, but it’s the tiny details that make The Impersonators music and messaging so captivating. “Rodeo’ was written over a year ago and it was recorded last October. In fact, this was the last track Antti and I wrote together before The Impersonators went on what turned out be nearly a year-long hiatus,” explains Tom Tikka.

 “Although ‘Cloud Nine’ came out last March and I was promoting it full steam, in reality, I was already busy with The Missing Hubcaps, intending to drop a few songs while Antti and Janne were also absorbed in their own projects,” continues Tikka. “Only mentioning that because I’m finding it hard to remember anything about recording the track. Luckily, I do remember what inspired the song.”

“Listening to Spotify one day, I heard the word ‘rodeo’ used in another song by the same name in exactly the opposite sense,” concludes Tom Tikka. “The phrase in the tune was, ‘You ain’t my first rodeo.’ I liked the song and the lyrics a lot, but yet, found my mind drifting off to thinking how terrible it feels to go through one’s very first relationship rodeo. We’ve all been there. Its hell and something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”

The music video in support of the single, “Rodeo” was scripted, directed, filmed and edited by Tom Tikka’s wife, Elina. All of which proves that The Impersonators, in all of its creative facets, is overseen by a collaborative collective, worthy of the highest praise.


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