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To fully experience the intriguingly glitchy pop of FRND (a.k.a. Los Angeles-based musician Andrew Goldstein), you need to understand his obsession with koala bears. “The koala is almost like an alter ego who represents a version of myself,” he explains. “They might be chill on the outside, but there’s a lot of emotion. It embodies this journey I’m going through.”

Animated avatars notwithstanding, FRND’s intimate 2017 EP, In Your Dreams proved all-too-human, woven through with romance-tied musings. Its first single, the levitating “Friend” captured ears after appearing on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist, subsequently hitting No. 1 on Hype Machine. Meanwhile, the ebbing-and-flowing sting of “Substitute” clocked a staggering 16-plus million streams, while his feature on Blackbear’s “Anxiety” has over 41 million on Spotify alone. (Not surprisingly, Goldstein’s knack for capturing the human spirit by way of sticky hooks previously led him to pen songs for Lauv, Britney Spears, and Blackbear.)

FRND’s sophomore EP, Before U I Didn’t Exist (Crooked Paintings/BMG, was released November 16). “100 Faces” is a breakup song as sentient observation, with robo-morphing vocals teeming with brutal realities. “I guess I learned my lesson…I fell in love with somebody that you manufactured,” he sings. “It’s been a while/ It’s been a while/ Since you’ve been gone/ And now I know I didn’t know you at all.”

Before U I Didn’t Exist is a collection of melodic, nuanced tracks, they sort through the disenchantment that permeated In Your Dreams. “You erase/ Erase all the hurt that I felt before,” he sings hopefully on Before U’s first single “Erase” (released June 15), all percolating beats and sweet nothings. “You replace/ Replace it with something I can’t ignore.”

Meanwhile, the album’s title track, “Before U I Didn't Exist,” chronicles someone changing FRND’s perspective so much, as if he didn’t exist before. “I thought that love was a myth/ And now you have me convinced/ Before you I didn’t exist.” An interstellar animated music video, in which FRND sacrifices his life to save his soulmate, accompanies the track.

FRND’s pop may not always be pretty, but his journey is an exhilaratingly authentic one—lust, laments, and all. “FRND is really this place you don’t think you’re capable of going until you actually get there,” he says. “You realize how much of life is driven by emotion versus thinking logistically,” he says. In the end, there’s still hope for a happy ending. “Once you navigate through these emotions, you get to the next level. That’s what happened for me.”

On September 6th FRND will release his junior EP which will be accompanied by his debut comic book, K.A.R.L Adventures of the FRNDship: Issue One includes the tracks, “What If I Fall Apart”, “Graveyard”, and “Famous Last Words”.

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