Lynks Afrikka – ‘Smash Hits, Vol. 1’ EP review: rising Bristol star is cult queer icon in-the-making

A thumping success that is as funny and danceable as it is emotionally effective and low-key endearing

As you’d probably guess from the garish outfits – smeared drag, DIY balaclavas, Barbie t-shirts, cheerleader pom-poms, dainty tutus – Lynks Afrikka doesn’t hold back. Debut EP ‘Smash Hits, Vol. 1’ is a glorious, day-glo statement of intent from the Bristol artist, who increasingly looks like a cult queer icon in the making.

In some ways, the tracks here all stick to a simple enough formula: muscular 808 beats and kitschy synth lines combine to irresistibly camp effect, the classic four-to-the-floor sashay of track like RuPaul’s ‘Supermodel’ colliding with acerbic wit and a drawling art-school-English vocal delivery. It’s the panache with which this formula is presented that makes these songs so arresting: ‘Str8 Acting’ and ‘How To Be Successful’ set the tone, the former brimming over with sharp lines – they describe straight clubs as “a lot like a pub but with slightly less chairs” – while the latter a bracing exploration of the hollowness and vulnerability of young adulthood, underwritten by a cast-iron banger of an acid techno instrumental.

In the moment, many of the lyrics on ‘Smash Hits, Vol. 1’ are by turns hilarious and transporting; read back when divorced from their musical context, there’s a keenly emotional core beneath Lynks’ zingers. The clearest example of this is ‘Desperate and Lovely, in Desperate Need of Love’, an affecting paean to loneliness whose ostensible earnestness is offset by schoolgirlish backing vocals and sticky references to masturbating over one’s ex. This is the lasting quality of this EP: as much as it’s propelled by its joyous instrumentals, OTT delivery and frequent hilarity, the suspicion that Lynks has created this alter ego as an escape is increasingly persuasive on repeat listens.

The record’s not without its missteps, though. The most glaring of them is the phrase, “it won’t get a mention when you’re old and grey and mental” in ‘How To Be Successful’. To tone-police Lynks Afrikka is to miss the point, but the clunky use of that final word – which many consider stigmatises mental health issues – feels a little derisory in the otherwise inclusive-feeling context of the EP.

Overall though, ‘Smash Hits, Vol. 1’ is a thumping success, as funny and danceable as it is emotionally effective and low-key endearing. For an artist so early in his career, Lynks Afrikka looks remarkably like the finished product.

Details

  • Release date: July 1
  • Record label: LynksCorp
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