If you're rolling. The condition "if you're rolling" should probably be in that title. For those who aren't, it's still got some fantastic moments, but it's a bit uneven, and if you already know that you're not a fan of house music, this won't really change your mind.
With the glaring exception of Daft Punk, mainstream success has widely eluded house, and for obvious reasons - the average music fan doesn't care for listening to a DJ toying around with the same beat for ten minutes. Truly, if ever there was a genre predisposed to mind numbingly overdone repetition and anticlimactic peaks, it's house. What made Daft Punk stand out was how they toyed with the beats; their ingenious use of samples, the complex structures, and of course the insanely catchy hooks. After the breakout success of I Remember, Deadmau5's sublime trance-inflected collaboration with Kaskade, he seemed poised for such a fate himself. It's still too soon to tell, but For Lack of a Better Name, a mix album of original compositions, does more to support this prediction than debunk it.
For Lack of a Better Name starts out with the dynamic FML, alternately aggressive and moody, before Deadmau5 (born Joel Zimmerman) settles into a solid groove, signaled by an organ at the beginning of Moar Ghosts 'n Stuff (which sounds slightly gimmicky, though only for a quick moment) before the beat blasts in. Its quickly following companion track, Ghosts 'n Stuff, sees Pendulum's Rob Swires on vocal duties, fronting an intense while intricate beat that proves to be the most galvanizing piece in the bunch. Following is the likewise fist-pumping Hi Friend!, which carries on the tremendous momentum effortlessly, though things start to slow down with the somewhat self indulgent pair of Bot and Word Problems. While it's obvious that the former in particular is present to mix things up, it plainly fails to offer anything intriguing beyond exploring three different facets to the song. The latter falls prey to a classic house blunder: it just goes on for way too long. By the time we reach the track's peak, about half of what's been heard did little to build it up (even the pseudo-peak in the middle failed to rouse) and afterwards, the song continues for nearly two more minutes. Had in the very least, those two minutes been shed, Word Problems would have been so much more satisfying.
The following Soma is one of those pieces best described as more interesting than actually good. As a genuine soundscape (or sonic landscape or whatever the hell term I'm supposed to use) it's endlessly fascinating; the first third almost sounds like bossa nova expressed with bleeps and a thumping beat, until it's expertly meshed into a soft, gentle piano piece, then the two repeat before being cleverly twisted into the trance drenched title track. Great song? Without question. But it sticks out like a sore thumb, and just about kills the impetus of the record. The title track doesn't help much either, as it displays the same faults as Word Problems; too much repetition with too few ideas. The 16th Hour is able to pick up the slack, and melts right into the closing Strobe, a near perfect, textbook comedown track.
Zimmerman shows great diversity, and while a mix album shouldn't necessarily be held accountable for its cohesiveness, a bit more solidarity among the tracks would have been nice, especially for the otherwise excellent ones that were rendered as lackluster because they simply didn't fit in with the atmosphere. Flawed as it may be, as far as stopgap dance releases go, For Lack of a Better Name mostly delivers the goods.