When You're a Boy
Susanna Hoffs sounds like the kinds of girl who lives a life surrounded by stuffed animals in a room where everything’s pink. On her first solo album, When You’re a Boy, the best-known member of the defunct Bangles exudes a cute femininity, as if she were auditioning to become this generation’s Sandra Dee. Does this sound suffocatingly sweet? It isn’t. Hoff’s earnestness makes her impossibly precious performance ring true. Helping her out are perky melodies (penned mainly by outside pop craftsmen): Songs like ”No Kind of Love” and ”This Time” are hook-filled and fluffy. Unlike the Bangles’ work, which favored folk-rock, Hoffs’ album goes for pure, effervescent pop; she’s still rooted in the ’60s, but instead of following the Bangles’ fondness for groups like Buffalo Springfield and Simon & Garfunkel, Hoffs tilts toward the chirping British girl-pop of Lulu and Petula Clark. In more current terms, buts like ”My Side of the Bed” evoke a sense of trust that would-be innocents like Debbie Gibson could muster only in their dreams. The singer’s sole flub comes when she tries to act sophisticated in ”So Much for Love.” But on the rest, Hoffs’ personality is compelling. She’s the kind of girl who wears bows in her hair and imagines romance around every corner.