The Glasgow art-punk band Life Without Buildings sounds like a lot of acts, including Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Altered Images, Pylon, The Go-Go's, Missing Persons, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. But the 10 songs (plus one U.S.-only bonus track) on its debut album Any Other City don't bounce from one influence to another. Instead, they reduce the flavor and style of all of Life Without Buildings' influences—25 years of brainy girlpunk—and reproduce them on track after track. Guitarist Robert Johnston works up a pleasant bit of angular jangle punctuated by staccato picking, while bassist Chris Evans steps nimbly around Johnston's chords, and drummer Will Bradley steers the arrangements through multiple breaks and tempo changes. Then vocalist and lyricist Sue Tompkins coos, trills, chants, and stammers out semi-improvised, oddly stressed exclamations. She frequently morphs between similar-sounding phrases, making "if I lose you" into "if illusion street." It doesn't matter whether the altered expressions make literal sense, because Tompkins uses her voice the way Johnston uses his guitar. Life Without Buildings' sound is intoxicating, attractive in its combination of approachability and elusiveness. The band hits its marks whether a given song is fast and danceable ("PS Exclusive," "Young Offenders"), slow and dreamy ("The Leanover," "Envoys"), or unconventionally poppy ("Let's Get Out," "Juno" and "14 Days"). Inevitably, the uniformity of Life Without Buildings' approach can become numbing, but that's part of the time-honored Britpop tradition of inventing a great sound and then exhausting it on the first record. Still, it's a great sound: bravado undercut by hesitation, and a shout of excitement followed by murmured regrets.

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