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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘AURORA’ is a subpar attempt at replicating ’70s rock

Riley_Keough_2017_Sundance_Film_Festival
Riley Keough, one of the vocalists featured on "AURORA" (2023) is pictured.

“Daisy Jones & The Six,” originally a 2019 novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid and now a 2023 Amazon Prime original television show, takes audiences through the tumultuous, drama-ridden life of the fictional band The Six, which later gets rebranded as Daisy Jones & The Six when Daisy joins the band. While the band may be fictional, its music certainly is not; their album “AURORA” (2023) was released with the Prime series. 

The vocalists on the album, Sam Claflin and Riley Keough, had never sung professionally prior to being cast in the show and were quickly sent off to a musical boot camp where the two, along with the rest of their band, became a true music group. Listening to the album, it seems that boot camp paid off. Claflin and Keough’s voices sound strong and do their best to emulate the sound of ’70s rock. Most importantly, at least in the context of the story of their characters Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones, their voices blend well together and complement each other beautifully.

As an album, “AURORA” is an attempt to recreate the sound of iconic ’70s rock bands, with the Fleetwood Mac inspiration ever present. The issue with being so heavily inspired by a musical era is that at times, the album feels like a mediocre tribute album rather than one that is able to stand on its own. In the context of the television show, the performances and songs are perfect and help tell the story of this iconic fictional band. All of the band members have incredible chemistry and truly look and sound like a real band. However, when you take the songs out of the show and listen to them on their own, many are plainly forgettable.

While tracks like “Kill You To Try” and “You Were Gone” feel like filler and are easily skippable, there are some songs on the album that you will want to queue up and give a listen to. “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” perfectly captures the sonic feel of a classic rock song, reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (1977). The song builds over the course of 5 minutes and 32 seconds with strong vocals from Claflin, intense instrumentals and a flawless bridge. 

“Regret Me” is a standout duet between Claflin and Keough that captures the complex dynamic between the two characters. The chorus, “So go ahead and regret me, but I’m beatin’ you to it, dude,” is sassy and catchy, while the song as a whole is filled with the perfect amount of angst. “The River” and “Let Me Down Easy'' continue the pattern of fierce beats and the beautiful vocal blend of the Claflin-Keough duo. 

While “Two Against Three” is sonically unique compared to the rest of the album, the softer tone of the song, moving lyrics and Keough’s romantic voice make it one of the stronger tracks. The lines “Boys were invincible lovers / Just begging to be destroyed” and “All I need’s a promise I can keep to myself” are poetic and highlight the emotions of Keough’s character.

The remaining songs on the album are solid but not worth raving about. “Please” shows the conflict of Claflin’s character and a different side of his voice, but it feels like it is trying too hard to capture that ’70s sound. Similarly, “Aurora” and “More Fun To Miss” are fun, but unlike “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” and “Regret Me,” they aren’t worth a second listen. 

Overall, the strengths of “AURORA” lie in the vocals of Claflin and Keough. They bring out the best in each other and their vocals complement each other perfectly, making them a more believable band. It is a shame that the album did not highlight the strengths of the other band members, as it would likely be a more interesting album if the vocals of the rest of the band were incorporated.  Lyrically, the songs are no masterpiece and sonically, the album feels like a subpar attempt at replicating Fleetwood Mac. Nevertheless, “AURORA” has some hits; the album reached No. 1 on iTunes, making Daisy Jones & the Six the first fictional band to achieve that feat. With new episodes of the show coming out on Fridays, the best listening experience would come from watching the show rather than listening to the album alone, as the performances of the songs elevate them and make them more enjoyable.