As humans, we can be very predictable. How often do we, despite our best intentions, let the cover colour our judgement of the book? Ditto with lead singles and the opening tracks of a new album, teasing musical introductions through which we so comfortably default to predetermined conclusions and half-formed opinions of what is yet to come.

This default position is what some fans and reviewers alike seem to have taken with their initial dalliances with Camp Echo, the second international (third domestic) album from Norwegian outfit,Highasakite, as they struggled to balance the warring electronica of tracks like 'Someone Who'll Get It' with the restrained refinement of predecessors in the mould of 'Lover Where Do You Live'.

Having broken Norwegian album chart records with their spectacular, Silent Treatment released two years ago and astonishingly still in the charts, it would have made sense for the band to have repeated the tried and tested formula that worked so well to mould such stellar tracks as 'Since Last Wednesday' and 'Darth Vadar'.

Instead, Highasakite seem to have made the boldly adventurous decision to go down a less acoustic but more electronic route, albeit one in which that sense of shady introspective nostalgia, so pervasive throughout Silent Treatment, has turned into a much darker outrospection mixed with moments of a more personal, contemplative nature. Overall, the transition has been quite dramatic yet not unexpected, and while there is shift in the mood and thematic direction, the underlying Highasakite USPs still remain: namely Håvik's compelling vocal and an unwillingness to conform to "pop industry standards" that has ensured that their music is as complex and cryptic as it is immediate and irresistible.

Camp Echo is Highaskite's first foray into the world of voluminous synth-pop, and the many dimensional sounds they have created shimmer and sparkle so brightly as to give a golden sheen to their somewhat darker lyrical siblings. Such is the case with opener, 'My Name is Liar', a track that bubbles with frothy synths and doomy electro beats that make for a very dynamic, animated opening. The marimba-like gymnastics of the propulsive beat-driven electronica fused with Bersu's glowering drums give this track a somewhat wall-to-wall percussive decor, the up-tempo beat of which denies the disturbing nature of the lyrics.

"My name is Liar and I'm friends with Sin, I am on fire and broken from within, Enemies of Freedom, Freedom itself is under attack..."

For me what is most intriguing about this track is Håvik's unique vocal interpretation. With its Middle Eastern influenced nuances and intonations, her inspired vocal delivery is almost a modernised take on the spiralling Mawwal vocal style used in traditional Arabic music.

Both 'Samurai Swords' and 'I Am My Own Disease' are songs tarred with black lyrics adorned with pretty '80's electro pop attire, American in every sense of the word right down to the vocal sound. They are probably the tracks least likely to see me press the replay button. Single 'Golden Ticket' is just that... pure, gold-plated, billowing pop splendour. With a defiant vocal that shines through wonderfully crafted electronic rise and fall, this song is finished with sumptuous eclat.

A crazy spaghetti junction of electronic noises and distorted vocals convey images of the dystopian scene of the "bad neighbourhood" that is Ingrid's mind in 'My Mind is a Bad Neighbourhood', while 'God Don't Leave Me' is a plaintive psalm built of woven layers of harmonious choral chant. The latter boasts a 'whistling' Eberson synth sequence that wouldn't go astray in a Morricone soundtrack.

The final two tracks are two of the album's finest. 'Deep Sea Diver' is a propulsive electro-frenzy that allows Håvik to let loose vocally, hitting the sparkling top of her range with a carefree ease and confident control that are a testament to her extensive vocal abilities. Speaking of which, the vocal arrangement on closing track 'Chernobyl' is simply astounding, with Ingrid's voice soaring and coasting through this barren soundscape like an eagle on high. Shades of John Barry's 'Ipcress File' theme and colours of Russian tones combine to conjure of images of a bleak vastness awash with dark atmospherics.

"I dream of nothing, 'cos there is nothing to dream of" - in that line alone, Håvik sums up the empty desolation, the lack of hope and future that has been and is, Chernobyl, since that fateful day thirty years ago. With its strong vocal layers and ingenious instrumental, this near perfect track recalls everything that was ABBA at their greatest.

Camp Echo both opens and closes with what are, in my opinion, its strongest, most unusual, and most inspired songs. They both perfectly top and tail a production that is unquestionably Highasakite's deepest and darkest foray into the world of electronica, the force of which they use to charge their forensic examination of the bleak political, social and cultural landscapes of the modern world viewed through their eyes.

With a strong focus on Håvik's commanding vocal which is pushed to the front of most of the tracks, the music on 'Camp Echo' revolves around beats, with drummer Trond Bersu's percussion reinforcing the emphasis of Håvik's strong-willed, charismatic vocal. There are many elements at work here, and one would speculate as to how influential guitarist and solo artist in his own right, Kristoffer Lo, was in bringing new references to the recording table. With some nods to jazz, snatches of '80s and '90s pop influences, as well as some more orchestral influences seeping through, all of which combine to give this album are more mature, engaging and eclectic personality than its predecessor, Camp Echo is Highasakite's darkest, most troubled and challenging album to date. It is also their best.