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Summary

The brand-new memoir from James Acaster: cult comedian, best-selling author of Classic Scrapes, undercover cop, receiver of cabbages.

Perfect Sound Whatever is a love letter to the healing power of music and how one man's obsessive quest saw him defeat the bullshit of one year with the beauty of another. Because that one man is James Acaster, it also includes tales of befouling himself in a Los Angeles steakhouse, stealing a cookie from Clint Eastwood and giving drunk, unsolicited pep talks to urinating strangers. 

January 2017

James Acaster wakes up heartbroken and alone in New York, his relationship over, a day of disastrous meetings leading him to wonder if comedy is really what he wants to be doing anymore. 

A constant comfort in James' life has been music, but he's not listened to anything new for a very long time. Idly browsing 'best of the year' lists, it dawns on him that 2016 may have been a grim year for a lot of reasons, but that it seemed to be an iconic year for music. And so begins a life-changing musical odyssey, as James finds himself desperately seeking solace in the music of 2016, setting himself the task of listening only to music released that year, ending up with 500 albums in his collection. 

Looking back on this yearlong obsession, parallels begin to grow between the music and James' own life: his relationship history, the highs and lows of human connection, residual Christian guilt, and mental health issues that have been bubbling under the surface for years. Some albums are life-changing masterpieces, others are 'Howdilly Doodilly' by Okilly Dokilly, a metalcore album devoted to The Simpsons' character Ned Flanders, but all of them play a part the year that helped James Acaster get his life back on track.

©2019 James Acaster (P)2019 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Audible Sessions with James Acaster

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What listeners say about Perfect Sound Whatever

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Loved it!

Ahh, I listened to this book so quickly and now I’m sad it’s over! I would consider myself a casual music fan, I’ll find a few songs I really like and listening to them over and over until I get sick of them. But I’m happy to say that this book made me to find a new found excitement for music. You can hear James Acaster’s passion for every song he writes about and although my taste in music is slightly different to his, this book made me share this passion. As for the storyline, he managed to make it reasonably light and got a few good laughs out of me, despite talking about a very difficult period of time for him. The openness he approached every story with was great as I felt like it made it easier to relate to the problems he was dealing with. For some weird reason I also really enjoyed when things were changed slightly to make the book more audio book listener friendly.

James Acaster truly held nothing back in this awesome book which I think everyone should give a try.

5 people found this helpful

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I LOVE JAMES ACASTER! A GREAT LISTEN

Now I have loadw of albums to listen to! a really good, enthralling yet easy listen/binge listen over the August bank holiday weekend. it's always great to learn more about James' life. Truly one of the most unique and hands down my favourite comedian! 😍😍😍

3 people found this helpful

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I don’t understand the appeal of this book.

I downloaded this because I am a fan of James Acaster’s stand up. I expected this to be funny or witty in at least some way but as far as I can tell it’s a string of mediocre reviews of pop albums from 2016. Sad to say I found it boring, self-indulgent and disappointing.

12 people found this helpful

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The clues were there

I love James Acaster. Have seen him live several times, watch anything he's on, on TV, and Classic Scrapes is by far the funniest book I've read and/or listened to. This audiobook, I pre-ordered, but each interview given about the book after that, increased the dread. It is, literally, about the CD's released in 2016. To be fair, I was warned. I expected humour. I really thought it would be, somehow, amusingly done. Unfortunately, I should have picked up on the warnings. Not just extremely tedious, but interspersed with frequent clanging, tinkling sounds to denote, "between chapters". I regret and resent buying this audiobook.

15 people found this helpful

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Good listen

An interesting listen and worth it just for the band Okily Dokily.
James is very funny and there are some good tales in there as well as a serious overall theme. I not a big music person but that doesn’t matter. Don’t let it put you off.

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Half biography, half musical review, wholly great

It is splendidly well-written and being narrated by its author is certainly a bonus. He delivers a heartfelt performance and certainly helps land his own material exactly the way you'd expect. It actually saved me reading this book while hearing his voice.
The book itself is just wonderful to listen. He weaves in and out of the thread of his own story to create a parallel or link to the music he then goes on to describe. The very personal nature of his relevelation mirroring the intimacy of the each of the artist's work.
I wasn't sure I'd like this book, I'm not into music theory and can't under in depth analysis so this felt like a Gamble. Perhaps it was the fact this is an audio book, but you fell that much closer to the author as he goes over some of his most painful thoughts and emotions. I hope opening up about this all was as cathartic for him as it was for me to listen to so so many testimonies on feelings and experiences I can absolutely relate to (excluding shitting my pants in a public place.)

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love James

to be honest, I'm not that interested in music and literally I had heard of only 1 of the artists he mentioned...but I had to keep listening cos I didn't want to upset James by stopping early ....you never know if he knows....and after the year he had in 2017, I just couldnt handle the responsibility of adding to that...anyway, he kept teasing the end of chapters with updates on his life and that was enough to keep me hooked.
Having said all that, if he does a second version "2019 was the greatest year in music", I would be the first to buy the audio version!! love James, he's a good man and a funny man.

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Brilliant

Loved it. Loads I could say about it but I don't have time as I am off to listen to some music from 2016

1 person found this helpful

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If you love music

If you love music this must be amazing, sadly I had no idea who any of the bands he was taking about were but that fact that I sat and listened to all must mean James is doing something right.

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Music nerdyness

He really really knows his stuff on music from 2016.
As a big James Acaster comedy fan I came here looking for a funny book - which it really was at times, but was also a very very comprehensive list of music from 2016 and also a look into his depression and the journey he'd been through.
If you want a pure comedy book then this might not be for you, but it is a good book.

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  • sophie
  • 29-08-19

BEST BOOK ABOUT 2016 IN 2019

I bought the book the minute audible emailed me that it was available. I stayed up until 1:45am determined to finish it the same day. Should I have spaced it out to enjoy it more? No. One day.

2017 was also the worst year ever for me, and I deeply appreciated hearing James’ chronological account of the project he immersed himself in to get through his year. I googled album covers, became an immediate fan of Laura Mvula, and reminisced over my own projects from that year. James, if you ever need an indie apparel designer to collaborate with on a project, I’ll meet you at the South Pole.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Alena
  • 06-12-19

No more sadness!

Not to make any big announcements, but I feel like this book cured my depression.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Vanda Livingston
  • 11-12-19

Best comedian currently working

This book is a hilarious account of one man’s odyssey to find meaning in a depressing world by listening to music made by artists who were also trying to find meaning in a depressing world. It genuinely gave me a feeling of being connected to humanity, which I don’t feel too often these days. Knowing that so many musicians recorded albums to deal with feelings of isolation, despair, and heartbreak made me feel much less alone. Also, James Acaster is a brilliant storyteller. If you haven’t seen his four standup specials on Netflix, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Watch them immediately. He instantly became my favorite comedian when I saw them, edging out John Mulaney. Sorry, John. I still love you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 10-09-19

Thrilling

Not only tells the story of 2016's music, but is also incredibly relatable. An honest look at Acaster's emotions, psychology and life in general. If I could give him 10 I would.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John C.
  • 15-05-21

Enjoyed his other book this one not so much.

I wish there were more stories like in James other book. The going on about obscure musicians and records gets old fast. I am still a fan but it’s a swing and a miss.

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  • Michael Andrew Kinkead
  • 31-03-21

Incredible

His level of nuance is what I have always strive to be. And his sheer insane moments are exactly what I try to do. Less funny of course. His premise for the book intrigued me years ago I just had grad school. The entire point of this book is a man coming to term with change and accepting that nostalgia puts blinders on the joys in front of us and that maybe, it's okay to move forward. If that isn't something we all need to work on, I truly don't know what we can do at this point.

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 04-01-21

Incredible

I received this audio book as a gift and oh man what a gift it is! James' incredibly odd sense of humor blended with sincere honesty about a difficult time in his life really resonated with myself. The same way many of the album's he speaks about in the book really helped him, his writing has helped me realize something about myself or my own struggles! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary music, james' comedy and honest accounts of someone's personal struggles.

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  • Pat Seaward
  • 19-08-20

Great music, great message

Thoroughly enjoyed James’ ability to weave in and out of autobiographical anecdotes along with tales and deep dives on the artists that unknowingly assisted in the great rise of what is undoubtedly the best year for music of all time. Well narrated and featuring a great blend of artists, I highly recommend to those looking to expose themselves to some awesome tunes and genres you might’ve previously overlooked.

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  • WuZiheng
  • 22-07-20

You have to know what you are getting into.

Don't go into this album thinking it's a stand-up comedy piece. you really need to be in the mindset of what you are getting into, before you listen to it. It's basically a snippet of a life story told by James Acaster in his pursuit of finding music from 2016.

He talks a lot about his personal ups and downs and the struggles that he went through, and his various cooking mechanisms, which mostly revolved around music.

I highly recommend it for any audiophile or anyone who is a fan of James Acaster.

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  • Jeremy Poon
  • 17-11-19

The one and only James Acaster...

James has surely gone out of the league of comedians' biographies with Perfect Sound Whatever - he has intertwined a snippet of his story and description of a specific piece of music from 2017, which mix together surprisingly well. A good listen if you are into James' kind of comedy.