The Certainty of Chance [CD B] is no surprise. The recording sessions for Fin De Siecle and other studio work at the time saw Neil Hannon indulging in numerous covers of Stephin Merritt and Michael Nyman songs. The resulting B-sides here show that it might be time for Hannon to move to other pastures. "The Certainty of Chance" is a fine, minor moment from Fin De Siecle; it's not Hannon's finest hour, but it's not his worst either. Joby Talbot's shared songwriting credit might be the culprit for the song's lack of energy, but it definitely burns a bit slower than usual Hannon fare. "The Dead Only Quickly," a song that would make a later appearance on Stephin Merritt's Hyacinths and Thistles album, is so short as to be nonexistent. Clocking in at just over a minute, it's a brief tongue-twister of a curio with Hannon spouting pointless lyrics about decay. One would have hoped that a Merritt/Hannon collaboration would amount to more. "Knowing the Ropes" is a cover of the Michael Nyman song from his score to Peter Greenaway's Drowning By Numbers. The track is probably the best Nyman cover to be found across the many similar B-sides that litter the Fin De Siecle singles. While Nyman's more cinematic renditions are superior, the Divine Comedy doesn't ruin the song with noisy guitar sounds as on its other Nyman cover attempts. With all of the songs on The Certainty of Chance making appearances on better, more complete releases, The Certainty of Chance [CD B] is rather redundant and only worth a look for die-hard fans.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina