• Wygals
  • Honyocks in the Whithersoever (Rough Trade) 1989 
  • Splendora
  • In the Grass (Koch) 1995 

Though New York’s Wygals existed in one form or another since the mid-’80s, it took singer/guitarist Janet Wygal and her drummer brother Doug (both ex-Individuals) four years to release an album under the family name. By that time, ex-dB Gene Holder (who had produced both of the Individuals’ releases) had joined as guitarist/producer, helping to refine a once-sprawling sound into a refreshingly nonformulaic brand of guitar-based art-pop that’s aurally attractive but never sappy. On Honyocks in the Whithersoever, tracks like “Eat a Horse,” “Creature Comforts” and “Slap Me Like a Wave” balance Janet’s mischievous wordplay and offhandedly impassioned vocals with inventively layered melodies that even sound good backwards (as on the title track). A fine record by an under-recorded band.

After the Wygals ceased to be a band, Janet and her sister Tricia (bass/vocals) formed Splendora with cellist Cindy Brolsma, violinist Jennifer Richardson and drummer Delissa Santos. If Veruca Salt were a decade older and a bit less pleased with themselves, or if the Breeders favored the Throwing Muses side of their parentage rather than the Pixies, either might sound a bit like the now-defunct outfit, which played smart and engaging harmony flower-pop with a jolting rock spine and the textural benefit of strings used in various imaginative ways. Holder co-produced In the Grass with thin, harsh sound and paceless sequencing; still, the folk-rocky “No Place,” surging “Beautiful,” moody and keening “Rat Fink,” salty “Pollyanna” and feedback-flecked “Shirt On” are satisfying and distinctive examples of a dandy band loaded for modern pop bear.

[Scott Schinder / Terry Rompers]

See also: Individuals