What separates Hoku's self-titled debut album from the glut of shiny teen pop that flooded the market in late 1999/early 2000 is that it never tries to sound wiser than its years and it never seems to pander to commercial concerns. Sure, it's commercial -- that's what teen pop is all about -- but never once do the record makers decide to push Hoku as a nymphet. Her songs are never sexual the way those of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera surely are. These are sunny, innocent songs, from the bright dance numbers to the slow ballads. That's appropriate because Hoku has a girlish voice; she sounds young, so it makes sense that her record is targeted toward middle-school daydreams and junior-high dances. Thankfully, producer Antonio Armato keeps things light and sparkling, helping to keep the record fun even through a couple of slow stretches. Make no mistake, Hoku isn't a masterpiece, but it is a really fun, lightweight pop record that is better than most teen-pop wannabes from its era. Also, it suggests that Hoku could stick around and be more than a one-hit wonder (though that one hit, the exuberant and slyly clever "Another Dumb Blonde," would be good enough for most dance-pop divas); she wrote, performed, and produced the final track, the Jewel-ish ballad "You First Believed." It may be a little sophomoric, but it's sweetly so, and that sweetness is apparent throughout the record and is what makes it a winning debut.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine