Corner Gospel Explosion’s deep dive into religion, childhood, mortality and a number of other weighty subjects continues in the second four-song chunk of its concept album “It’s Hard to Be a Kid.” Released online this week, “Education is Actually a Good Thing” is a bit more challenging thematically than last month’s “Before They Drag Me to Hell.” This group of songs ostensibly deals with “how Christian religions often try to suppress knowledge to control the people around them,” according to vocalist/lyricist/drummer Bradley Parsons, but with the exception of opening track “Education,” the lyrics here aren’t as explicit.
“Human,” the second track here, is the clear highlight, built on a catchy, muscular riff from bassist Tyler Parsons and a soaring chorus from Brad. “It might not feel normal to be human,” Brad sings, before worrying about bills and friends and totaling cars in the song’s verses. The chorus furthers the narrator’s indecision and doubt (“Thinking about the future can only hurt the view here”). It’s fairly standard soul-searching, but it takes on deeper meaning when weighed against the death of keyboardist Chase Mickel in a car crash in 2016. When Brad sings the song’s outro — “Now that you’re on your grand adventure, I understand what it took to get here” — it feels revelatory.
It’s odd, then, that the next song, “10 & 2,” seems to deal with the same subject, but less effectively, coming across almost as an afterthought. Fortunately, EP closer “Mental Health” ties everything together, with Brad summing it all up late in the song: “It’s so easy to imagine that you don’t control your life.”
Somehow, the EP ends up being even more personal and introspective than its predecessor, and though not as immediate, it may be more effective in the long run in this approach. But whereas “Before They Drag Me to Hell” offered clues as to where this concept is going, “Education is Actually a Good Thing” has shrouded some of that in doubt (as any good middle chapter in a trilogy should). Stay tuned for the final EP, due out next month.