Fatboy Slim
Better Living Through Chemistry



by Zebra USER (177 Reviews)
September 5th, 2006 | 6 replies

Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

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 contains.

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 and Palookaville 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.

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user ratings (67)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 5th 2006


Very tight review, Zebra. I enjoyed it very much

Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2006


Awesome awesome.
I have only heard a handful of Fatboy Slim, mostly his singles spread out across however many albums, but judging from the tracklist, I don't think I've heard anything from this particular album.
Nice to see you reviewing once again, though.

The Jungler
September 5th 2006


Good review, I like Fatboy Slim's singles, I doubt I could sit through a whole album though.

September 5th 2006


Back when i liked this kind of music, FBL was one of my preferences.

September 12th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review, this is a nice relaxing record. Haven't listened to Fatboyslim in yonks though.

February 13th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Everybody, eat snow? I hope you're joking. The lyrics are "Everybody needs love". Hence, the title of the song being "Everybody Needs a 303".

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