Over the weekend I had finally watched the long awaited of Montreal documentary, The Past is a Grotesque Animal. I was hesitant to view this film for quite some time, as I thought it would destroy my perception of front man and songwriter Kevin Barnes. This proved to be an eye opening experience for sure. The film highlights the band’s career from the very start. Seeing all of the old footage of how the group came to be was rather charming and delightful. The behind the scenes footage was certainly a treat as well. Their vibrancy and quirkiness definitely shined straight from the screen. Every aspect of the band was touched upon. From troubling relationships, to the brilliant artwork and stage performance antics of brother David Barnes and co., it proved to be truly insightful.
Throughout all of the good times and struggles the band often continued with, the film focused quite a bit on Kevin Barnes’ inner demons. The depression, the anxiety, the need to make ‘good art,’ no matter at what cost. The one problem though, is the need to make ‘good art,’ lead to the departure of longtime and key players Dottie Alexander, James Husband, Bryan Poole (B.P.), alongside Matt Dawson and Davey Pierce respectively.
The thing that struck me most was how easily Barnes removed himself from them to make a complete musical transformation. What came to be one of the most celebrated band of the 00’s, has changed into so many forms that there feels like there is something missing, especially in a live setting. The ever exciting line up during onstage dance parties are something that I, as well as many fans, truly miss. Though change can be good sometimes, The Past is a Grotesque Animal, made Barnes out to have villain tendencies. Whether or not this was the intention, it was an extremely fascinating look into a phenomenal band that has hit home with so many listeners over the past several years.
I don’t think I will ever stop buying of Montreal records. Kevin’s songs have always struck a chord with me. This certainly gives me a different perspective into the world of of Montreal.