Franz Nicolay’s latest solo release, Do The Struggle, is a consistent poppy, alt rock blend of stories with instrumental cuts in between each number. “The Hearts Of Boston” is an upbeat country piece with soft feminine vocals to complement Nicolay’s masculine tone. Following the narrative is the first installment of instrumental breaks, “[1].” The crackling abstract piece feels a bit out of place given what was already heard at the start of the disc. Immediately after, Do The Struggle leads into the ballad-like title-track. Despite Nicolay’s ability to tell a convincing story, during this particular number it feels as if he’s trying to bend his voice into a combination of David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen. The vocal performance is subpar, yet the lyrics still make the number worth a listen.

Even though Nicolay’s over-exaggerated voice that makes the release fairly obnoxious, the string arrangements on it are stunning and fresh. The seamless transitions between “Did Your Broken Heart Make You Who You Are?” and “[3]” should also be commended; it felt like the song never ended. Even though the release doesn’t live up to the expectation set forth by its beginning, “Frank Stubbs’ Tears” is one of the stronger pieces on Do The Struggle. The finale, “Joy” rolled in with a deep brass section marched forward by pounding drums. The most diverse sounding song on the collection closes the album out with a bang.

Franz Nicolay’s recent release has its shining moments, although most are bleak. Do The Struggle is worth it, even if just for the few diamonds among the coal.

In A Word: Average

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