This is music that wears its heart on its sleeve, even though the heart is dirty and ripped from being torn off time and time again. This is R’n’B at its most operatic; ecstasy and tragedy have never felt so tangible.
Jonny Telafone sits at an odd angle within the realm of Australian electro-meets-R’n’B. His jagged presence prevents him from sitting comfortably in either realm yet both genres benefit greatly from his musical vitality. Jonny’s sci-fi sex tunes resemble The Weeknd rotoscoped: the dark reverberations of the psyche are stretched out and the genuine emotion is illuminated and heightened. It’s as if Jonny Telafone is R’n’B turned up to 11 – exaggerated and overblown – but in saying that, Jonny Telafone’s music might sound overblown because it’s meant to; it’s dependence and despondence taken to extremes and it’s enthralling.
Romeo Must Cry is Jonny’s first full-length release aside from a collection of remastered tunes previously only released on cassette. The album is a journey through the war-torn battlefield of love that Jonny inhabits; filled with debris of broken relationships scattered by errant winds. Jonny stands bewildered at its centre, unsure of how so much damage could be inflicted and if this place could ever be repaired. There is a beauty throughout the album: the pulses, discordant breakdowns and ethereal ascents work to bolster Jonny’s effusive pleas and howls, swaying between buoyant and entombing from song to song. Jonny’s voice communicates the highs and lows admirably, proving that he is a voice that needs to be heard. The entire album should be listened to in a dark room illuminated by purple strobe with smoke machines belching sweet fumes at 2 minute intervals.
Throughout Romeo Must Cry, Jonny erects monuments of passion and devotion to his loves, worshipping their essence and allowing it to sustain him wholly. Even throughout rejection Jonny holds onto feelings as they eat him from the inside until nothing but a husk remains – that is until he finds another object of desire to fill him up again. You get the sense that the Jonny Telafone persona is so intrinsically linked to the notion of passion, connection and love that nothing else seems to exist in his world. The all-or-nothing attitude to relationships is commendable, although each base-level feeling is taken to extremes. Sweetness is so heightened it’s saccharine, devotion borders on obsession, heartbreak verges on complete devastation.
This is music that wears its heart on its sleeve, even though the heart is dirty and ripped from being torn off time and time again. This is R’n’B at its most operatic; ecstasy and tragedy have never felt so tangible. When Jonny debates whether or not he wants to love anymore on ‘Neuromancer’, you feel his inner turmoil. At times the songs do feel a bit samey, and the rap from Bones on ‘Waking Up Crying’ felt a bit out of place, but overall this is a great collection of songs. The music on Romeo Must Cry makes my chest tighten, like when you see your Ex-whatever out on the town but like Jonny would probably tell you, it’s all part of the game – tears will flow but you just have to keep on loving until it sticks.