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milk. Quenches Alt-Pop Thirst at SXSW 2023

When Mark McKenna, the lead singer of four-member Dublin band milk., announced that they only had one song left of their set, a tall man with his hair tied back shouted “Say sike right now!”, causing McKenna to crack a smile as he looked at his six-string to start the final song of the night.

Rounding out the latter half of the Esther Follies showcase, the alt-pop group started abruptly at 10 pm and finished a few minutes shy of 10:40 pm. The combination of cacophonous live drums, a synth drum pad, muddled lyrics and crystal clear bass lines nabbed the attention of the crowd, who were dancing and bobbing their heads like their weekly cardio depended on it.

2022 single “I Might Bore You.,” one of the more subdued tracks of the night, allowed the members to demonstrate individual talents. McKenna showed off his lower register while drummer Morgan Wilson took control of the synth pad, showing the ensemble's sonic versatility. The annoyed lyrics and attitude of debut song “Drama Queen” have found their way to the frontman, McKenna almost looking bored while singing. This apathetic act did not impact the juxtaposing twinkling tempo of two guitars, finding a niche in the “sad-lyrics-happy-tune” category of indie music.

In a city that has a lot of eyes on its musical products, milk. provide a refreshing alternative to the Dublin alternative rock scene. The musical stylings of vocoder voices, RnB bass lines and a dash of melancholy bring to mind The 1975. However, milk. exudes an Irish approachability and comfort that the Manchester band can’t achieve.


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