At this year’s Lovebox Festival, Frank Ocean’s headline set was panned by some quarters. As thousands watched his index of soft introspections, some were frustrated by his inability – or disinterest – in engaging with the audience. They argued that there was a palpable disconnect, an invisible wall, alienating Ocean from the listeners; and that the gig consequently suffered in its emotional assembly. Isn’t disconnect and detachment, and the shared elevation of the interior mind and soul, the purpose of Ocean’s music? Isn’t it the mission of music which invests everything in intimacy to belie universalism for the sake of expression’s purity? Blonde’s a special, special album because it’s Ocean distilled, where guest voices like André 3000 are echoes and extensions of himself, and its listener engagement actually sprouts from its estranged intimacy. Blonde typifies a space of music which is so jarringly personal, that it becomes germane.

When I think about this most inimitable of movements, I think of Frank Ocean, Grouper, and Baths; artists who tap into R&B and hip hop, folk and ambience, electronic and dream pop, to construct mainstream, popular aesthetics around remote memoirs. Lushloss, real name Olive Jun, belongs to this dialect, and Asking/Bearing is one of the most special albums of the year.

The forward slash in Asking/Bearing upholds a stern weight, as this is a record self-evidently fragmented. Asking winsomely evokes both latter-day Baths and Grouper, with crinkling, lo-fi pianos and guitars sowing seeds of inquisitiveness and uncertainty, bombarded by scalped beats and windswept blank noise. Her vocals are distorted infinitesimally, with pitch and key and clarity fluctuating like a lost compass; but her vulnerable, eloquent lyricism acts as its secure bristle. This half is woven with passages from a Skype conversation between Jun and her Korean mother, discussions about identity, family, mortality, inter-generational guilt and trauma, and the love which swabs it all; it’s presented without affectation or contrivance. The poignant frankness of the dialogue offsets the uncertainty and effervescence of the musical sections, a stunning duality of purgative expression and self-imposed inhibition.

Bearing blossoms out of Asking, the dainty ‘Hold uu’ recalling Cerulean-era Baths at his most quixotic and animated. The pop beats and strokes become both crisper and dancier, as exhibited on ‘Old Oak’ and ‘Wanting’, but also more layered and buoyant. Bearing increasingly grows in stature, the crinkles of the production fades, and Jun’s vocal’s become more distinct; although it’s almost entirely instrumental, its trekking uphill silent and smiling. You hear, and feel, the music becoming more refined and assertive, tracing the emergent lucidity of self-contentment. With this assured run-in Lushloss locates the unheralded strength of fragility. It’s a beautiful idea, beautifully conveyed.

Asking/Bearing will be defined by its barren beauty and acute selfhood, justly, but it should also be credited for the exquisiteness and imagination of its songwriting. Jun is a remarkable diarist, but perhaps an even more remarkable artist.