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Between the Mirror

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ASTRINA’s debut album, Between the Mirror, takes us on her journey with mental illness: beginning with a song she wrote during one of her first encounters with hypomania and travelling through 7 more songs worth of ups, downs and perspective shifts that have accompanied her learning to live with bipolar disorder.


The album opens with “Changing”, a song about feeling unstoppable.  Here, ASTRINA explores the unabashed confidence that comes with the highs of her condition.  The song is inspired by her relationship to the music industry and her future as an artist, but every word is distorted by the lens of unbridled enthusiasm and ecstasy.  There is no stopping her and her goals as she evolves into what she calls a “masterpiece”.


By the end of the second song, “Head Held High”, we find ourselves drowning in a cacophony of vocals.  ASTRINA shares the feeling of being overwhelmed by how quickly she keeps changing.  The lyrics of the song alone would come across as a cry for help, but they’re supported by a grooving bassline and a thick arrangement of guitars, vocals, and synths that distract the listener from her desperation.


It isn’t until the next song, “Falling Away”, that we get a moment to breathe.  Here, the album slows down and releases into an ethereal, orchestral-like arrangement where ASTRINA takes a moment to reflect, “I’m falling away from you / There is nothing that you can do.”  She realizes she is no longer the person she used to be and mourns for the loss of her past self.


The mourning ends abruptly when the next song begins.  “Not That Girl” is full of a playful sass as ASTRINA realizes she is no longer bound by the person she was in a past relationship.  She’s back into one of her highs and feels great about her change.


But we don’t get long to celebrate.  Next we find ourselves in what is by far the most abstract song on the album, “Blind”.  ASTRINA begins to recognize that she has felt this high before: “There’s something new about this feeling / The same old thoughts a different mind.”  In this song, she begins to recognise the cycle, and feel blinded by it.


After realizing the nature of her experience, ASTRINA shares a warning message with the world in “You Should Run”.  This missive tells of the distortion that love can put on a person.  But following the story of the songs that come before it, it sounds more like a warning not to love ASTRINA as opposed to a warning not to love at all.


“Ride This Wave” brings us into the most beautiful and epic piece on the album.  Trapped in her negative self image, ASTRINA begins to worry that she’ll never go back to normal - that she’ll always be trapped in a high or a low and never truly understand herself. But the song always comes back to the chorus, “I’ll ride this wave until it dies,” telling us that she is committed to surviving the experience.


The final song on the album is almost unexpected after the melancholy vibes of the penultimate.  But her commitment to the persevering attitude in “Ride This Wave” pays off in the dancy pop tune “I’m Still Here”.  After everything that’s happened in her journey so far, ASTRINA is still here.  She has survived her battle and will keep battling on, “Just one more step through time”.

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