Kevin Barnes keeps his creative life moving in one gear: Forward.
2012 marks his 15th year performing under the of Montreal banner, but you won't catch the flamboyant frontman performing any songs recorded before 2004's “satanic Panic in the Attic,” one of his adventurous avant-pop band's most celebrated albums.
“I don't regret any of the creative decisions that I've made, but when I think of of Montreal I don't think about anything in the past,” Barnes said in a recent phone interview from his Athens, Ga., home.
“I'm not that excited or interested about anything in the past. I just want to keep moving forward and thinking about what I'm going to do next.”
The Joyful Noise label has released a special anniversary cassette box set of every album of Montreal has recorded from 1997's “Cherry Peel” to last year's “False Priest,” but Barnes leaves such things to fans who still feel a nostalgic affection for old formats such as audio tape, vinyl and the declining CD.
“I don't really listen to any of it,” he said. “The songs that work well for the live show, I have to go back and listen to the tracks, and a lot of times I'm surprised. Maybe I've forgotten the nuances of the tracks, but it's not really something I spend that much time doing.
“It's more about the creative process, making a thing that I find fulfilling and exciting. But once it's done it's just done. I just wanna keep moving forward.”
His most recent exciting fulfillment is “Paralytic Stalks,” of Montreal's 11th studio album and one of the band's most critically lauded works. It's an instrumentally and melodically rich art-pop epic that's lyrically one of Barnes' darkest, most personal confessionals.
“I think I've definitely made more personal, more intimate records before, and it's kind of definitely in that vein of going through some difficult times and trying to keep my head together, and just sort of relying on music for therapy, or as a way to navigate through the madness.”.
“I think that it's definitely more self-indulgent. I mean, previous albums have been almost cartoony. They've been more danceable and slightly more colorful, and slightly more accessible than this record. It's definitely coming from a much darker place of self-loathing and frustration and confusion, so it's definitely not a party album.”
The complex and fractured instrumental arrangements on songs such as “Dour Percentage” and the sprawling “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission” are heavily influenced by his current interest in avant-garde classical music and '70s prog-rock, with a bit of Curtis Mayfield/Stevie Wonder-inspired funk.