"Lick My Decals Off, Baby" is often overshadowed by its predecessor, "Trout Mask Replica," but it's every bit as good, and on some days it even exceeds it. The main difference is the tonal textures, only one guitar this time, whilst the second is replaced by marimba/second drum kit. The approach in song construction is a refinement of the "Trout Mask" style, there are more obvious flashes of harmonic concord to counter the multiple key arrangements, and the Captain's singing is more consistently in tune with at least one of the instruments! The performances are much tighter, the production much cleaner, and it is much more focused on a whole. It's still chock full of insane free jazz segments and demented blues rock, but the shorter length makes it somewhat more accessible. Beefheart has always been a master of the absurd and nowhere is this more evident than on some of his lyrics. Van Vliet indulges in surrealism and impressionism throughout the album. Zany, profound, and literate all at the same time. He discusses sex and gender politics in his typically atypical fashion, even an environmentalist slant in some of the tracks, which displays the Captain applying his surrealist wordplay to serious issues. Overall, a giant burst of energy from another dimension. While it's older brother, "Trout," slightly suffers at times from being a little long-winded, "Decals" leaves no room in its thirty-nine concise minutes for filler of any kind, leaving you with an album which is a timeless avant-rock tour de force.
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