Daisy Jones and the Six is a fictional ’70s rock band in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel of the same name from 2019. The book follows the meteoric rise and sudden disbanding of the group with a special emphasis on its lead singers, Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones. Brought together by the band, they find they have more in common than they would like– their addictions and their desire for one another.
This is wildly inconvenient given that Billy has a wife and family he loves, and Daisy challenges both his marriage and his sobriety. Meanwhile, as the fame of the band ascends, Daisy only falls deeper into her addiction, which is not helped in the least by her feelings for Billy. So, how do their dynamics affect the band? What does this have to do with the rise and fall of Daisy Jones and the Six? This year, these questions were re-explored in the form of an Amazon Prime mini-series based on the book. Along with this, the first and only album of the band, Aurora, was reimagined and released, featuring Sam Claflin (Billy) and Riley Keough (Daisy) as its lead singers.
For the makers of Aurora, there is a double challenge. The first, of course, is to make a good album. This has to be an album that could conceivably receive the reception the band received in its time and one that would be a delight to listen to now. Second, the listeners should hear Daisy and Billy in it. It needs to be crackling with their longing and fury and mirroring internal struggles. Let us get right to it and see how the album responds to these challenges.
“Karen: Maybe it’s revisionist history, but I think when Billy played “Aurora” it felt clear that we could build an album around it.”— Daisy Jones and the Six (book)
The 11-track album opens with its titular song, “Aurora.” This is an excited and careless tune accompanied by a refrain right out of a romance novel– “You’re my morning sun.” With this, the song begins freely and directly. However, this sincerity is immediately undercut by the next verse: “I kinda think I wanna make it last forever.” The unsureness exemplified by this lyric is only heightened by the almost-teasing way in which it is sung. The uncertainty eventually wins out over the love, with the singers admitting to deceit, inadequacies, and loss. The song ends in the limbo of letting go of what you want and still wanting it. This track is surefooted in communicating the entangled fear, desire, and defeat while allowing each to hold its own. As the first and titular track, this song sets up a complex and intricate tone for the rest of the album.
In the next song, “Let Me Down Easy” there is no more wavering in love. Rather, they are at the mercy of their lover– pleading with them to be gentle if they break their heart. Interestingly, in the choruses, Keough’s voice rings out louder and more forlornly than Claflin’s. So, the listener can imagine– if they wanted– that this is Daisy’s plea to Billy. This song keeps up the quick pace the album began with, succeeding in making even desperation sound upbeat. This is a hallmark of much of their music. They lift up the worst parts of life and love with an arrangement that keeps their candor breezy yet emotionally salient.
Around the middle of Aurora, we encounter “Look at Us Now (Honeycomb),” the song that began the band’s ascent to stardom. It begins rather softly, with Claflin confessing he doesn’t don’t know who he is, and wondering how they were able to make their relationship work so long. As the song progresses and picks up the pace, it is clear that the singers are not satisfied to remain in wondering and fear. What began as a hesitant and gentle look into the relationship quickly turns into an ode to its devastation. The sing as if they were luring, “We could make a good thing bad.” The ruin does not bring them to despair. Rather, they see it as– we can be together in ruining this over and over again.
Toward the end of the album, we have “Please,” a song bathed in a haunting, holy, and sinful darkness, unlike any other song in this body of work. Claflin’s words tear themselves out from him with a pain and desperation he makes no effort to veil. This album masters the art of candor without giving into complete vulnerability. We can see this in earlier songs like Aurora, where loss is accompanied by a sense of playfulness. However, in “Please,” all restraints are cast aside, and Claflin begs unguardedly to be rescued from temptation. The song is a confession, sung as if knocking at the devil’s door, hoping to be turned away. This song recasts the emotions running through the album in a heavy and eerie light while still retaining their essence, which speaks to the lyrical and musical mastery of the composers.
The rest of the tracks carry ahead the energetic and effervescent start provided by “Aurora.” They are also balanced with more somber and soft tunes like the wafting sound of “You Were Gone,” the cozy storytelling of “Two Against Three,” and the gentle exit through “No Words.” You leave the album with a sense of fulfillment. The confusion, pain, and love is explored in full, however unresolved they may be. For viewers of the show, Aurora perfectly mirrors Daisy and Billy’s struggles with each other and their addictions, the push and pull between the things they should not want, and their hopeless, relentless desires.
This is the perfect album to immerse further into the world of Daisy Jones and the Six. It is also great if you want to hear your deepest fears and desires woven carefully into beautiful music. Either way, Aurora lives up to the difficult expectations it is set up against. Most importantly, the answer to the question– “Could Daisy Jones and the Six have reached new heights with this album?” is— very much so, yes.
AURORA - 9/10