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Publisher's 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

What listeners say about Perfect Sound Whatever

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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.

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No more sadness!

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

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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James Acaster is my soulmate

Be prepared to take notes and open your mind. Feels and awkward public Audiobook chuckles are abundant.

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Touching and resonate

This book is a homerun and connected with me on a deep level. Plus James Acasters reading is stellar.

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I’m convinced

I am a big fan of James Acaster, loved his first book and his comedy specials and was so excited when this came out. Love the personal stories and that his through line is supported by the anecdotes about the musicians and the music making of these records. He casts a very wide net as far as music goes-which is great. I have already found two albums that I like from his recommendation, for which I am grateful. Aside from Acaster not mentioning two superb albums from 2016 specifically (Tegan & Sara’s Love You to Death and Francis & the Lights Farewell, Starlight!) he makes his case for 2016 being the best year for music, and I’m buying it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-23-19

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.

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  • Rhys Clark
  • 08-27-19

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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  • K. Richards
  • 09-05-19

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.

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  • Badger
  • 09-03-19

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-12-20

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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  • Cece P
  • 04-18-20

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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  • Pepper
  • 12-18-19

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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  • diane
  • 11-30-19

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

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  • Joshua
  • 08-28-19

Hilarious, honest and insightful.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. On the face of it a book about albums from 2016 is an obscure theme, but that’s not the story here. I actually got a lot personally from the breakdowns/solutions to the hard times in life that we all go through. It genuinely changed my outlook to a more positive one. Great book made even better my James’ reading.

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  • Alice
  • 11-29-20

amazing!

so funny and interesting! if u love James acaster or music this is the book for u! love James' life mixed in with talking about the best albums of 2016!

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  • Howling Fantods
  • 10-08-19

Good music compilation, not enough biography

I'm a big James Acaster fan, I think his netflix specials are the best thing on the entire website but I'm not a huge fan of this book/audiobook. Its clearly very earnestly written and he's done his research on these musicians and their projects, whilst splicing in a fair amount of little anecdotes and comedy. Overall though I really wish there had of been a greater focus on the details of his personal struggles so you could hear more about the anxious positions he was in and explore the connections he was making with these albums. The result instead is that there's this continuous stream of album recommendations spaced apart by often vague descriptions of conflicts with people in his life. I know he probably doesn't want to turn this into a winge about the details of his breakup etc. but its part biography... I need to know whats going on if I'm going to relate to you dude. Otherwise the production and performance on this audiobook is great, James puts a lot of charm into the text and there's a bit of added humour which is clearly only available in audio format.

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  • Verity White
  • 01-01-20

Excellent and thought provoking story

Acaster is hilarious but also reflective and kind to the hundreds of micro stories he lovingly describes about the artists involved in putting out the music he loves from 2016. highly recommend to music lovers

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-20

amazing

my first audio book I finished. I loved James story telling and deep dives into the music

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  • Louise
  • 07-06-20

Neither one thing or the other

I really enjoyed Acaster’s Classic Scrapes and, while I wasn’t expecting this to be similar, I was expecting it to be more than a self-indulgent listing of musical preferences loosely linked to life events. I just didn’t get a sense for what the author was trying to achieve - not an autobiography, but not really anything else either. Certainly not very funny. Not a natural narrator, credit to James for giving it a go but audiobooks are a tough gig when you are used to speaking quickly to a live audience.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-09-20

amazing book

I loved this book, it was hilarious, entertaining as hell and informative. It may have completely changed how I approach listening to and writing music myself. Thank you for this gift James.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-25-19

hilarious

James Acaster is brilliant. Laugh out loud moments, and muscially educational, give it a try

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  • Isaac Gassmann
  • 09-30-19

Loved it!

Loved it! I love James, and you need to watch his Netflix special. And he is fantastic in taskmaster

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  • Rob in Nelson NZ
  • 09-13-19

This was NOT what I expected but really enjoyed it

I'm a big fan of James Acaster His Repertoire on Netflix is the best thing on it. I expected this book to be something similar to his Classic Scrapes book. It really isn't. It's a passionate book on James' love of music. Particularly albums from 2016. Reading the blurb I expected some of James deadpan humour but that's not the case he loves his music and the love is infectious He had an up n down time during the research for the book. It's a book that describes his life challenges. I'd loved his comedy talent before but my respect for the man increased immeasurably. I've tried several albums based on his recommendations and some will stay on my playlist. Lots of laughs still and highly recommended.