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Formed as recently as New Year’s Day 2019, Milk. have already established themselves as ones to watch in the Irish music scene. The Dublin quartet’s (Mark McKenna – vocals, Conor Gorman – guitar, Conor King – bass and Morgan Wilson – drums) previous three singles have amassed over a million streams across all platforms and Milk. have been praised for their sonic waves of synth-laden melodies and incandescent vocals. On 1, The EP, it’s certainly easy to see why.
The six-track sampler opens with ‘A Little More’. Its bright, bubbling synths, babbling vocal samples and sample heavy synth-pop reveal more than a little influence from polarising but popular band The 1975. This is also true of McKenna’s mumbled, heavily accented, staccato vocal delivery, comparable to that of Matty Healy. ‘A Little More’ gives way to the shimmering guitar leads and summery vibes of ‘Drama Queen’. A highlight amongst these half-dozen tracks, it comes with an irresistible hook:
“It’s your party, you can pretend and you can cry if you want to.”
Two-parter ‘Saudade’ arrives at the EP’s midpoint. The first part’s opening footsteps and wistful piano, backed by ‘90s RnB-style brass and sophisti-pop guitar sounds, give way to crashing drums pushed right to the forefront of the mix, before being seamlessly peeled back to reveal delicately plucked guitar arpeggios and twinkling synths. Its mellow tones are ultimately misleading as ‘Pt. 2’ introduces a nightclub dance feel courtesy of guests Search Party Animal. Clandestine vocal patches and reverb-soaked keys overshadow syncopated stabs of bass and sparse guitar leads.
‘Treat Me’ sees reverse tape effects introduce vibrant indie-pop melodies and muted, high-register electric guitars. Its high energy and ascending synth melody, along with the sophomoric hook of “why do you wanna treat me like that?” give the track a youthful feel. Elsewhere, closing track ‘Always On Time’ is an acoustic-driven number with vocoded vocal layers reminiscent of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’. A downtempo song, it’s perforated with descending guitar arpeggios and scant samples, building towards a melodic crescendo from its second chorus until its finish. Loud, crunchy guitars and peppy horns enter the mix before it ends with a single, hopeful acoustic guitar chord.
Overall, 1, The EP is an enjoyable listen. Its bright, vibrant, youthful sound and subtle stylistic changes across all six tracks offer enough to keep listeners engaged. It’s easy to see where the hype comes from. However, the band’s influences seem a little bit too obvious to ignore. At this early juncture, it may be too much to expect them to bring something new to indie pop. The lyrics don’t inspire much thought either; there are a lot of clumsy clichés throughout:
“Sink your eyes / Into mine / Day and night / You’re always on time.”
However, Milk. have a knack for pop writing and arrangement, and an ear for a catchy hook. One would hope that this leads to growth in that department, as well as some sonic evolution on their part.