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Fine Times

"I unabashedly love pop music," explains Fine Times singer Matthew Moldowan. "I couldn't consider doing anything else."

This, in a nutshell, explains the Vancouver duo's reason for being. Longtime friends Moldowan and bassist Jeffrey Josiah Powell have been striving to achieve pop perfection throughout a decade of collaborations, working together in past projects before eventually founding Fine Times in 2010.

Their self-titled debut album came out on Light Organ Records in 2012 and its grandly soaring pop anthems quickly won over listeners. The group charted nationally on !earshot's campus radio charts, earned nominations at the 2013 Indie Awards (SiriusXM Emerging Artist of the Year) and the 2013 Western Canadian Music Awards (Pop Recording of the Year), and became a familiar face on the North American festival circuit.

Now, close to two years later, Fine Times has upped its game with a hook-filled batch of songs recorded with The Zolas' Tom Dobrzanski at his Monarch Studios. With mixing by Dave Bascombe (Charli XCX, Depeche Mode), the cuts brim with danceable indie rock grooves and unforgettable power-pop choruses.

The songs are the product of an intense writing process in which the band members emailed tracks back and forth, with Moldowan pulling all-nighters and sending Powell his ideas at dawn. They worked on their demos with obsessive perfectionism, and Moldowan admits, "I'll spend hours tweaking the smallest of drum sounds." The synth textures, meanwhile, were meticulously crafted by blending multiple keyboards together and creating one-of-a-kind sounds.

When they finally entered the studio with Dobrzanski, the producer helped them to make the tunes even more succinct and punchy. "We really wanted to get the songs as short as possible and Tom was able to help us pare them down," Moldowan says. "I have an extremely short attention span, and those are the kind of pop songs that I like. Get in, get out."

The results blend ebullient melodic brightness with an undercurrent of cryptic lyrical darkness: "Bad::Better" channels its feelings of paranoia and inner conflict into a throbbing bass groove, as a hint of industrial menace blossoms into breezy guitar hook and culminates in a whistled crescendo, while the bubbly "Rule No.7 (The Half-Life)" is the perfect soundtrack to dancing away the fear of death. "Not Dead" is a glittering ray of tropical sunshine, while the twinkling synths of "Minerals" reveal the duo's fixation with classic '80s new wave.

Although new album plans aren't yet decided, fans can expect these latest singles to emerge gradually over the coming months, both on the radio and during Fine Times' electrifying full-band live sets. As the material gets ever more ambitious and irresistibly catchy, Moldowan points out that the outfit's modus operandi remains as simple as ever: "We're just trying to write songs that we want to hear."

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