Eli Manna runs a wide gamut from Prince to Bach on the prism of genres that is “The God Complex”. Done with grace and style, the whole of the album is conceived cleverly contained by a thoughtful story arch. With this narrative thread the entirety of the journey makes sense, for the lyricism truly does sit front and center, a true anchor of the tales being told. His voice feels so soothing, silky sweet with a degree of richness. Quite well selected, the songs themselves offer a reflection upon a life lived most fully, in a way where the pieces linger in the mind long after they have ended.
The references are far and few between, but they do exist in some limited sense. Janelle Monáe’s “The ArchAndroid” proves to be a nice touching point, for, like Eli’s work, she makes sure to cover wide swathes of history with her sound. He creates so much within the album itself, as classical, R&B, hip-hop, pop, and many more too numerous to fully list out. Even the sampling features a well-listened Eli, for there are pieces of rock, elements of Daft Punk, and so much else. A huge part of the joy of the album, even beyond the exquisite lyricism, is simply trying to pin down exactly where each piece fits in, where it came from, and its origin story.
After the short “Intro” Eli settles into things properly with “Like Father, Like Son”. On “Like Father, Like Son” there is a fiery presence, for his flow burns everything in its path. With a Latin passion comes the nimble “Arizona” with the bass drop feeling absolutely magnificent. Rolling on through with a laid-back G-funk is “Hidden Oaks (feat. Zay Sever, Ramiah)”. Jazzy kicks take hold with “Uncle Smokey” as there is a bit of A Tribe Called Quest’s thoughtfulness. With “Gial Sole Dal Gange” Eli takes a left turn in a heartfelt, stripped-down hymn. One of the catchiest tracks on the whole album comes into view with “Sugar Baby”. Mellowed in a tropical way is the colorful “True Love”. A melted swagger lumbers through “Lately” adding a sense of physicality. Rock runs through “SUPERSTAR” as there is a hopefulness to it. “5 Days Til’ Sunday” he even brings a bit of country rock into the fray. Bringing it all home is the nimbleness of “Peace, Rejoice and Release”.
“The God Complex” is an ambitious, sprawling album, one that shows off Eli Manna’s exquisite taste and uncanny ability to explore a whole history’s worth of styles with ease.