One upon a time, a drag monster crawled out of a sweaty basement in Bristol, wrapped in bin bags and armed with unhinged beats. That monster was Lynks, the masked creation of a modern day Leigh Bowery. They had swapped their self-described “sadboy” James-Blake-in-ballad-mode music for cheeky club tunes after having their laptop stolen. Their persona went down well at a friend’s club night, and they fashioned it into a new calling.

Lynks has been brash, sexy and eccentric from the beginning, back when they went by Lynks Afrikka. Their debut album, Abomination, is no different. But there’s a level of poise and polish that easily outshines similar attempts in the mainstream (and the underground) to bottle the theme of queer monstering into a sleek three-minute pop tune. At the risk of pitting the gays against each other, this record does more than just claim unholiness with a title. It embodies it in every part of the song, to reveal these tropes as deeply silly but very real. 

Their not-at-all-secret weapon is a delicious deadpan, which allows the songs to be grounded and ridiculous. There’s a clear streak of self-deprecation. On ‘Sex With A Stranger’, they ride the DLR for a semi-anonymous hook-up, worry they might get murdered, and go through with it anyway. 

On ‘Use It or Lose It’, they playfully describe the fear many gay men have; that their libido might have a use-by date. “I still don’t know what it means to be a gay man over 40 unless I’m Ian Mckellen or Graham Norton,” goes one line, before concluding: “My life ends the day I’m not invited to the orgy”. Dark spectres hang over the song. The reasons for a lack of older gay role models are obvious and painful. It’s also depressing that your self-worth can hang on how much dick you’re getting. Instead of removing the edges with pop hooks and comedy, Lynks uses them to make these ideas more cutting. 

Lynks has beefed up their writing and production since the early Smash Hits EP, transcending the novelty aspect that can so easily plague comedy-oriented songwriting. You might be reminded of other tunes occasionally. His catchy punchline choruses have the same appeal of a good Confidence Man song. Sweeter moments, like the sung chorus of ‘Tennis Song’, pull from a lineage of bizzaro gay anthems from early Of Montreal and Magnetic Fields. There’s a loose mid-2000s dance-punk energy to his drum programming, and, clearly, a lot of pop girl worship in his percussion and toplines (think netherworld Kelis, twink Missy Elliott and good old Sugababes). Still, there’s a specific perspective to these songs that recontextualises any one stylish touchpoint or reference. 

Abomination gets its name from Leviticus 18, a bible verse many queer people will know: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” The title track connects this verse to the many ways that shame can manifest in the present day, like gay and bi men being barred from giving blood, or the lingering influence of conservative Christianity on our culture. These are well-trodden points in the drag world, especially, but it’s rare to have them showcased in decent songs. 

There’s nuance here elevating the material. On ‘Lucky’, Lynks acknowledges that it might be the best time and place to be out as a gay man, all delivered with a wink that puts the sentiment in the grey between irony and sincerity. 

Two final tracks, ‘Small Talk’ and ‘Flash in the Pan’, both tap into the gritty edges of 80s queer pop and rock that formed in British clubs. The latter could have been released at any time between Frankie Goes to Hollywood and now. On it, they worry that their fifteen minutes are up. “I’m not quite what I thought I was / I’m not one of the chosen ones”, he sings. It’s cheeky, and knowingly a bit Edinburgh Fringe, but fitting for a character that asks us to embrace the camp, the messy and the off-putting.