The mid-noughties were a confusing time for music - the indie resurgence gave life to the majority of today's festival headliners (Arctic Monkeys, The Killers), but no-one can deny the NME-branded 'Nu Rave' movement is something we'd all like to forget about, if we haven't done already (and even if I was partial to the return of 'Kappa' and the odd glowstick).

Somewhat confusingly The Sunshine Underground were lumped in with the day-glo faithful when they first emerged in 2006. Their sound possessed vast crossover appeal by building upon traditional indie foundations with elements of dance and punk. Gathering buzz through visceral live shows, their critically pleasing debut album Raise The Alarm followed an equally raw motif, whilst their heavier influences were flaunted in their 2009 underrated follow up Nobody's Coming To Save You.

Seven years later, now label-less and in a completely different mindset, The Sunshine Underground are preparing to return with their third album, a project they have funded predominantly through Pledgemusic. It sees them explore a new direction, venturing outside of the indie spectrum where they first staked their name for more electronic pursuits. Mere days after recording has finished, in the limbo period before mastering, we headed up north for an exclusive first listen.

Frontman Craig Wellington picks me up from Leeds train station on a surprisingly sunny October morning. It's just before midday but the nearby Wetherspoons is confusingly full of people having a casual Tuesday pint so we decide against that option and head straight to the band's flat-cum-studio on the outskirts of the city.

It's clear from the offset that this album is dominating Wellington's life at the moment, as talk of the record starts before we've even left the station's postcode. After four years off the radar, he explains that rather than taking time off like one would expect, their energy has instead been channeled into developing themselves creatively the whole time - "we've written about 40 songs over the last three years, and it's just been channeling that down into a selection we all like and are all proud of."

At this moment he says the record will be 60 minutes long, and made up of ten tracks, though that is subject to change based upon the album's electronic nature, and the inevitable changes that will come in the mastering process. I ask whether making an album so different to what they've done before is something he's always wanted, or instead an attempt to evolve with the industry, as many bands of that time have no doubt hit hurdles when trying to recreate past success. "I've always been more focused on songwriting, but Stu [Sturat Jones, guitarist] in particular has recently been really into production, so making a more electronic album seemed like a natural progression" he explains, "of course some of the demos we started out with three years ago sounded ridiculous though, but since then we've learnt more and more and refined it down."

Seeking a completely new direction is no doubt risky, which makes it somewhat understandable why The Sunshine Underground have taken so long perfecting their comeback of sorts. What is surprising though is how they creatively got there, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones: "After that second album we actually banned guitars for a year, so we could make something that was unlike anything we've done before" says Wellington as we approach the flat. "Most importantly on this record we're making music based around what we actually listen to, which to be honest we couldn't do back then".

We enter the apartment to find Stuart making sausage sandwiches and tea, their lounge is dominated by keyboards, sample pads, amplifiers and two gargantuan speakers placed on the coffee table. "This is where the album got made really, I mean it was obviously recorded in the studio, but those songs were basically better sounding versions of demos we made here," says Craig as we sit down on the couch. Before listening to any new material, the vast array of instruments already illustrate that what they have relentlessly been working on over the last four years is founded in experimentation, and pushing themselves outside of what people would expect: "We really went out of our way to make sure we didn't make an indie record, and we just want to surprise people" says Craig, his sentence cut short when having to explain which cupboard the coffee is in to Jones.

Other than genre-based changes, the last few years have also seen The Sunshine Underground lose bassist Daley Smith, an event which Stuart feels has pushed them into this new creative territory: "I think that change of dynamic made us, it definitely forced us to play new instruments which was the start of the new record really, the last three years have just been a lot of learning for us."

Intrigued by their excitement about the new material, I ask if we can listen to some key tracks from the record, even in their unmastered state, to which they oblige. Kicking off with piercing synths and an intricate electronic beat, we sit there and listen to a song with the working title of 'Don't Stop', a track that has yet to appear in their recent live shows. "This is the first track we went into the studio with," shouts Craig, as we put those speakers to good use, "Ross (Orton) really added a new perspective to the electronic elements as well."

In terms of production Orton has an undeniably strong background, with acclaimed work for Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A and The Fall in his back catalogue. The producer's influence is definitely apparent on the record through various nuances, such as in moments where smooth electronic foundations are heightened by visceral chants from the band. "Working on this part of the track was really interesting actually" explains Craig, "we knew how we wanted to sound, and the only way we could describe it to Ross was as 'laddy gospel', which sounds terrible, but he made it work."

The abundance of cowbells turns the conversation towards the new influences they have acquired through the process of this record, including the likes of LCD Soundsystem (or anything on DFA Records) and Talking Heads. After briefly discussing which track they want to play next, they decide on one directly inspired by the latter, which they feel could be a potential single (though they haven't made any decisions yet in that respect). Much like they promised, 'Finally We Arrive' is a far cry from the sound many would associate with The Sunshine Underground, filled with punchy synths and arpegiatted grooves, almost in a similar vein to Cut Copy, sitting in the middle ground between electronic programming and live instrumentation, Wellington adopting a crisp falsetto in his vocal delivery. I mention how refreshingly different this is to their debut, maintaining certain elements to appease fans, yet still pushing them in a completely new direction. "I don't think I couldn't listen to our debut album now" laughs Craig, "but I'd say it was definitely of the time, and was just four years of our life encapsulated, which I guess defines this record as well in a way."

"This record was just fun to make basically" ripostes Stu, "and having all these new toys has just given us a ton of new sounds for our arsenal." It's openly apparent that this album has enabled The Sunshine Underground to finally embrace what they enjoy, and not make music founded in the genre-based trappings that arguably confined them after they broke through, a point which they clearly embody through their perseverance to question people's expectations. "First and foremost you've gotta be into what you're doing and stay inspired, otherwise what's the point of doing it?"

With mastering happening over the next few weeks they tell me they hope the album will be released early next year, in the wake of live shows this autumn and inevitable negotiations with record labels. As a fan of the band in their early days it is a pleasure to see The Sunshine Underground develop so organically, particularly after being off the radar for so long, ushering in a new era to their sound and undeniably keeping things interesting.

If what we heard is anything to go by then this record will no doubt throw them back into the hype machine, their change of style more like a new band than a comeback. Needless to say, unlike most of indie's class of 2005, there is most definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

You can pledge towards the new album by heading here.