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No. 66 - Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (2001).


September 29th, 2019


I'll confess: I enjoy an album that doesn't make sense. The lyrics make their way across a bridge, stop in the middle, head back toward land, start off in the original direction again, drift just past the midway point, then stop once more.


I first heard one of the tracks from Life Without Building's Any Other City (2001), "New Town," about a year ago. I was going through the Late Night Tales catalogue, and was listening to Franz Ferdinand's set. If you haven't listened to any of the collection yet, they're worth your time, as they're made up of playlists compiled by artists who've been asked to put together a set of their favorite tracks, as though the artists were hosting a late night gathering. Snow Patrol, MGMT, Belle and Sebastian, and Groove Armada make up a few of my favorite.


As for Life Without Buildings, the first lyrics that the band's lead singer, Sue Tompkins, delivers on the band's only album reflects the work's intent: "No details, but I'm gonna persuade you!"


This is a fact. The album is void of details; it's not meant to be understood, but listened to, and perhaps, persuaded by. A few of the tracks ––– I'm thinking of "Juno" ––– carry on for too long; however, there's a sweetness, as well as an endearing feeling that carries through the album that can't be ignored.


It's not an album for everyone. And in fact, those who the album is not for will be driven mad by Tompkin's vocals. With that said, there are more than a few moments of kindness in which, if you're ready for them, will pull you in. For instance, within "The Leanover," Tompkins asks, just once, then twice, "May I walk with you, may I walk with you?"


As for "New Town," which is placed as the album's penultimate track, there's a lyric buried within the track that delights me each time: "I saw you today, you were like snow, you were like the snow! You were like the sun's on my face." It's a beautiful image, to think of Tompkins, seeing someone, perhaps a beloved, on one bright January afternoon, and feeling as though the snow has softly descended upon her.


Any Other City closes with "Sorrow," a track about a break-up, or perhaps, an impending break-up. "Sorrow now, cause me sorrow now, don't smoke in bed, with me." Despite the sadness, still, there's a sweetness, a hope, which prevails. "I thought of you till the ninth degree." Before the poetry that is Tompkin's vocals return for one last breath.


"Eyes like lotus leaves, no, not even like

lotus leaves."


"Eyes like lotus leaves, no, not even like

lotus leave."

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