Named after a Japan B-side, Life Without Buildings actually drew a little more from several post-punk bands and another that their name seemed to acknowledge: Talking Heads.
Formed during the summer of 1999 at the Glasgow School of Art, Will Bradley (drums), Chris Evans (bass), Robert Johnston (guitar), and Sue Tompkins (vocals) decided to fuse their talents out of their admiration for other proto- and post-punk bands like Television, ESG, and early PiL. They also reminded many of the late-'70s Rough Trade sound, which was well-known for a deep roster that largely featured jerky/martial rhythms, sparse instrumentation, and sung/spoken vocals. So it made perfect sense that the Rough Trade-affiliated Tugboat label would ask the band to record a single after their first London gig. Released in March of 2000, "The Leanover" b/w "New Town" secured the band a deal with the label. Numerous radio sessions ensued, including one for Steve Lamacq's Evening Sessions on the BBC. A second single was released in June, and a third followed shortly thereafter. The band's debut full-length, Any Other City, was released in late February of 2001 in the U.K.; DC/Baltimore 2012 issued it months later in the States. Numerous positive comparisons were drawn, almost to the point of becoming an albatross for the group; despite this, Life Without Buildings were every bit a modern pop band, not at all retro in the manner of a garage band. Well apart from other Scottish acts of the time like Travis and Arab Strap -- only Johnston was Scottish, anyhow -- Life Without Buildings clearly offered something that music was lacking in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the group broke up in 2002. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi