In Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan-as-kaleidoscope biopic I’m Not There, Ben Whishaw’s Dylan imposter is asked if he is a fatalist. “I’m a farmer. Who’s ever heard of a fatalistic farmer?” Fame and fortune- relatively fleeting and constantly dangled goods in the common sphere of human operation- can feel like hard-earned fruits of labor that society unnervingly tend to look to as standards for value. And just as an unexpected frost or rainy season can sway a crop’s future, so can the phenomena of unexpected monetary gain. This is all a very long-winded and farty way of saying that Roxy Green’s “$5000 a Week.” feels very much like standing in that field watching the storm coming in and not knowing what it’s about to bring.
The song explores the dissonance of untethered wealth in human hands- an-often maddening ocurrence captured in the tragedies of overnight lottery winners like Jack Whittaker- and beset by the darker ends of human nature. “People seem proud of my town / getting real friendly now” is echoed later with “people seem happy in town / I don’t trust people now.” Paranoia and isolation seem to overtake the narrator of the song as their world becomes all the more saturated in the shadow of their “big win.”
Structurally, the song echoes the dissonance at play, a descending series of notes plaintive in their order followed by a near identical, lightly more sinister series. Lead Liv Brazill knowingly seethes, “If you want the world, then, hey, you’ve got it.” At first her words sound like a reassurance, but by song’s end, it feels much more like a warning.
There is something apocalyptic about the tones at play here, which is great fun, but the song never shies away from the reminder that this is a human story. “I just wanted to stay home, watch TV with a wife or a family,” admits the narrator, as a ghostly chorus emerges from the shadows with three words as comforting as they are haunted: “I know you.”
“$5000 a Week.” is out now, and I very much recommend you give it a listen.
Review by Bobby Guard