Jonny Telafone is a Canberra-expat, Melbourne-based auteur, working in a genre that could be best described as post-apocalyptic R’n’B.
Romeo Must Cry is Jonny’s first official album, after a series of digital and cassette releases stretching back to the late 2000s. This period culminated in Chapter Music’s 2012 self-titlted compilation, which took the form of a four song seven inch single, accompanied by a 20 track CD career overview.
Romeo Must Cry is a new chapter for Jonny Telafone, his most clearly articulated vision yet. The album presents a darkly sexual near future, both disturbing and alluring. The world could end at any minute, oblivion lurks around every corner, but there are still human connections to be made amidst a gleaming metropolis.
So steamy, seductive first single The Prayer (as posted on Pitchfork, Indie Shuffle, Flavorwire etc) is contrasted against the bleak fatalism of Inferno, the cyberpunk urgency of Carry Me Far Away and the disarming sweetness of Strange World.
It’s an intensely personal vision, with only a handful of outside contributions. Waking Up Crying features a verse from rising LA rapper Bones, who featured an earlier version of the track on his 2013 mixtape Paid Programming. The Ocean Party’s Liam Halliwell plays guitar on the epic Inferno, and Sam McCusker of noiseniks Orbits shreds on Neuromancer. The Prayer was produced with Forces maverick Alex Akers, while title track Romeo Must Cry (bookending the album in two distinct versions) was produced with Lachlan Thomas of Danger Beach/TV Colours.
From start to finish, the album is a journey from innocence, love and hope, through to steely-eyed despair. In Jonny’s words, “Romeo Must Cry is a tragic pseudo-religious sci-fi epic that details the rise and fall of a lovesick hero slowly descending into madness and eventually death. Trapped in a futuristic nightmare, he loses his great love along with his mind, his life and his very soul…forever.”