The years between 1984 and 1987 were not a lot of fun for The dB's; Chris Stamey left the group shortly before they began work on Like This, forcing them to reinvent themselves as a trio with Peter Holsapple as leader, and shortly after the album was released, their record company, Bearsville Records, went out of business, killing the record's commercial possibilities and leaving the group in legal limbo as they tried to sort out the details of their still-valid contract with a non-existent label. Consequently, 1987's The Sound Of Music was, in many ways, a "make or break" album for the band (and their first opportunity to release an album through a fully-functioning American label), and the band seemed determined to make the most of it. The Sound Of Music is easily the group's most polished and least eccentric album. Greg Edward's production is far slicker than anything The dB's had come in contact with in the past, and Peter Holsapple's songs shrewdly leaned to the most accessible side of his musical personality. In other words, if you loved the quirks and angles of Repercussion or Stands For Decibels, this is not the album you're looking for. But no one has ever denied that Peter Holsapple writes great pop tunes, and he came up with a dozen winners on The Sound Of Music; from the moody "I Lie" and the mournful "Never Before and Never Again," to the rollicking "Change With The Changing Times" and "Any Old Thing." These songs are smart and superbly crafted, and the band performs them with a winning enthusiasm. And the oddball racing anthem, "Bonneville," the catty breakup tune, "Molly Says," and the idiosyncratically anthemic closer, "Today Could Be The Day," made it clear that Holsapple hadn't entirely subsumed the group's personality in a bid for mainstream success. The Sound Of Music was the biggest reach The dB's ever made towards a larger audience, and if the masses didn't take the bait, one listen proves it was certainly their loss.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming