Fatboy Slims Better Living Through Chemistry
is his most consistent and only filler free album yet it is his least critically acclaimed. Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) has a reputation for creating two or three hit singles and then filling up the rest of his albums with useless filler and cheesy breakbeat tunes. Fortunately this is not the case with Better Living Through Chemistry
. Although it doesn’t contain any of his key singles such as “The Rockafeller Skank”, “Praise You” or “Weapon of Choice” it’s an extremely smooth and funky listen from beginning to end.
The formula to creating a fun techno/dance song is quite simple and Cook doesn’t try to attempt anything to confusing. Take the opening track Song For Lindy
as a good example. The music starts off with some zany keyboard effects and before you know it a big beat comes into play. Around three minutes or so Cook with throw in some more sparkling keyboard bleeps as well as a heavy bassline, a few electronic buzzes eventually turn into an adrenaline pumping dance anthem. Michael Jackson
is another funky instrumental tune consisting of a high pitched siren noise over some groovy breakbeats. The song focuses on heavy percussion work and some droning keyboard tones, a robotic voice comes in and repeats “Michael Jackson” for quite some time creating an extremely hypnotizing effect.
Better Living Through Chemistry
strives when it comes to creating hypnotizing yet compelling songs. Everybody Needs a 303
shows off some funky bass licks, wacky keyboard grooves and a trance inducing vocal cut that shouts “Everybody, eat snow ” This is undoubtfully one of Cooks best songs since it goes through so many phases without coming off as rushed or half-assed. Going Out of My Head
is one of Fatboy Slims more forgotten singles yet it’s the highlight on this album. Although the music is very simple it is still extremely effective; it’s just a hard hitting guitar riff over a heavy beat, the song quickly switches gears as a strange harmonica sounding instrument plays on in the background. These two tracks are the obvious highlights as they showcase originality, get the adrenaline pumping and will get your ass on the dance floor in no time.
Unfortunately the rest of Better Living Through Chemistry
is a mixed bag. When Cook does try to experiment the music just doesn’t have the same flashy and funky feel and it almost seems as if he’s desperately trying to give the album a more varied atmosphere. The jarring effects and buzzing beats of 10th in Crenshaw
will drive a man insane as the song has to dance values nor any interesting aspects. The Weekend Starts Here
is an extremely sluggish and chilled out tune showcasing some gentle electronic bleeps over a steady beat. It’s not that the song is to lethargic and slow, the only problem is that it detracts from the bass heavy dance atmosphere that Better Living Through Chemistry
The one thing that separates Fatboy Slim from other techno groups such as Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers is how you can enjoy his music even if you hate to dance. There are two or three different elements that go with each song; Cook will constantly take out beats, add keyboard effects, and throw in throbbing basslines just to vary things up while keeping the heavy dance atmosphere. At points the album can get a bit dull and boring, on a few of these tracks the hypnotizing effect just doesn’t work and you’re stuck listening to some bland and repetitive music.
As far as techno albums go Better Living Through Chemistry
is a solid listen from beginning to end. Although Cook is known for his works on more critically acclaimed albums such as You’ve Come a Long Way Baby
this is most accessible and funky release. Better Living Through Chemistry
may not be an amazing piece of work but it will put on a smile on your face and possibly get your timid ass off the couch and onto the dance floor.