Somehow I knew she had it in her; all the faux nihilism of Unter Null was merely an act. Beneath the stage blood and personahood there was a thoughtful countenance full of potential. "Abuse by Proxy" is a beautiful, stark album of emotional disconnection and vehement pleading for completion. Her site speaks of the influence for Stray being "outside" and after all the tours, the interviews, the personalities... she may have finally had time to process it all and reflect.

"Kindred Soul" has been getting a lot of press and it is wisely placed right at the start of the album. It's a charming little pop song followed by songs I find to be beguiling in their sirenhood: the stunning "Hold on" and the triumph which is "Lost Command". The former is as close as she's ever gotten to a straight up ballad and it is a bejeweled mixture of slow sweeps, dreamy guitar work, adjacent vocals buried behind a sheet of ice. The latter could be a theme for a phalanx of phantasmic souls lost between the light of this world and the sheer nothingness which comes after. To say that "Lost Command" has some motivational content is putting it mildly. Of all the work I've heard of hers, this one song is a definite favourite.

But more than just a collection of moods, "Abuse by Proxy" is also a celebration of the limitless power which electronic music can be harnessed to unleash. Dunham has shed her alter ego's cliches to give us a work which I hope she follows up on soon. The depth and sheer sensuality of Stray makes me miss Ivoux even more. Unlike that ill-fated act, Stray is alive and vivaciously resplendent with facets of this world's propensity to engage cascading throughout the entire length of the record. That this music suits the part of the world I live in to a tee is purely a bonus. The grey skies, the crystalline coldly affronting rivers and lakes, this is "Abuse by Proxy", an album by an outfit called Stray and it is spellbinding.