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Perfect Sound Whatever

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,706 ratings  ·  287 reviews
The hilarious and heartwarming new memoir from James Acaster: cult comedian, bestselling author, undercover cop, receiver of cabbages.

January, 2017.

James Acaster wakes hungover and alone in New York, his girlfriend having just left him. Thinking this is his rock bottom, little does James know that by the end of the year he will have befouled himself in a Los Angeles steakh
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ebook, 304 pages
Published August 22nd 2019 by Headline (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,706 ratings  ·  287 reviews


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Rachel
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
James Acaster is perfect. He is the 2016 of people.
DJ
This book is literally perfect for me. It combines my three biggest passions: books, music, and English panel-show comedians.

As with his last book, I listened to the audio again. I love hearing James Acaster talk - even when he’s not telling jokes or being deliberately funny, there’s something about him that’s just so compelling.

He gets very real here about his mental health struggles, his suicidal thoughts, his therapy, all the things going wrong in his life, and much more, and it is real and
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Rick Burin
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I like Acaster a lot – he’s an amazing comic – but this book is... kind of boring. When he’s in stand-up mode, talking about his own life, it’s predictably great (though he dealt with much of this life-history better in his last show). But Perfect Sound Whatever is mostly about music, and he writes blandly and clunkily about that: earnest at the expense of insight, leaning on vague platitudes.

He also makes the completely mystifying decision to render his many interviews with artists in reported
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Nat Woods
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 it made me share this passion. As for the storyline, he somehow managed to ma ...more
TraceyL
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
James Acaster is a very funny and underrated comedian. I was very happy to see he wrote a book and snatched it up. I loved the autobiographical portions of the book which were just as funny as I was hoping for.

I didn't enjoy the music information as much as I thought I would. He gets very detailed about some really obscure musicians and albums from 2016. I do like listening to people speak passionately about something they love, but I felt lost a lot. Maybe it was because I was listening to an a
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Lucie
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The memoir sections of this book initially come in small glimpses, but build up a pretty comprehensive picture of a year in which workload and relationships had a detrimental effect on James' mental health. There are an incredible amount of music recommendations throughout the book, and the stories that Acaster has discovered behind the artists own state of mind during the recordings add a level of connection to the albums. The stories behind many of the albums illustrate similar themes to Acast ...more
Meena
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's always good fun when your coping mechanism is getting hyperfixated on things and your current hyperfixation is a man called james acaster who has the exact same coping mechanism as you and this entire books essentially calls you out for getting hyperfixated on things instead of dealing with your anxieties yay. There is a very small chance this book triggered my depression ✌🏾 But I actually really enjoyed it especially the autobiographical sections which were very funny but also very sad and ...more
Dawn McCance
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
You know when you get stuck at the pub talking to the guy who goes on and on and on about obscure bands and how „you absolutely have to download this album by this little known band from Southampton who sing only in Swedish except they don’t know Swedish but still it’s magical“?
Yeah that’s this book.

A promising start, followed by insanely niche rambling (he almost lost me when talking about that Bandcamp album he loved that was downloaded by only 7 other people) but the ending got better.
Duncan Vicat-Brown
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Aimed more or less directly at me, so I had a great time, but I can't in good conscience recommend it to anyone who isn't expressing their mental illness via hyper-aggressive music consumption and cataloguing. ...more
Jack Stewart
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The chapter on Lindsay Lohan and Philip Hollobone is incredible
Lucian Wheeler
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is written with such sincerity and interest that I can't help but love it. The way Acaster talks about the albums and organises them next to his own experiences is fantastic. It's a book for people who love music, but are not necessarily musicians.

I haven't listened to most of the albums mentioned, and probably won't get round to it. Let's be honest, over an album every day for a year is a huge undertaking. But the way the music is written about Is inspiring. The context given for eve
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Declan Cochran
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can't be objective about this one. Acaster's way with prose is second-rate, and he only really has one note as a music writer, but this is still an incredibly powerful, wonderful book that in a very pure way details just how redemptive the right album in the right place can be. I will read it again and again. ...more
BMK
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ljuke
Loved it. Cleverly drawing parallels between the experiences of artists making their 2016 albums with his own eventful 2017, with funny bits. Very well done.
And now I have about 100 new albums I have to go listen to...
Mia
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
while this is first and foremost a book about music (and, specifically, one man's obsession with a particular year in music) the bit that i surprisingly enjoyed the most was the discussion of mental health interwoven throughout. james acaster is one of my favourite people, and i really appreciated his honesty and openness when discussing his depression. he talks about how his 2016 album project was a coping mechanism of sorts, and the importance of therapy. it's very comforting to know someone y ...more
Kirsty
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I loved anything at all the way James Acaster loves music from 2016. I really enjoyed reading this in little short sharp burst, it was hard to binge the vignettes from his life, the potted biographies of artists and the epic, poetic descriptions of their albums. Listening to new music consumes so much of my time and attention that I rarely do it but I did mark a few pages with stuff I think I’d like.

Writing about music people broadly haven’t heard is brave but it works! My favourite genr
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Keith Astbury
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Other than seeing Acaster put in a great performance on Would I Lie To You, I didn't really know a great deal about him, but this was a great birthday gift from my daughter (thanks Nat!).

I certainly didn't know he was such a huge music fan. OK, the premise of buying 366 albums from 2016 sounds like something a comedian might do to get a book out of it (think Tony Hawks lugging a fridge around Ireland, etc), but it doesn't read like that. Acaster writes truthfully (uncomfortably so at times) abo
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morgan ☾
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, favorites, music
I've seen James Acasters stand-up and tv appearances but this book was so vulnerable and genuine. The narrative of the story is told so well with how he incorporates his own memoir of 2017 with the different artists he's discovered. His excitement and love for these artists definitely comes across, and makes you feel excited and want to listen to these artists for yourself. I love how he discussed music being a form of escapism and how it creates a sense of belonging.

I found tons of new artists
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Emily Witty
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable read for anybody who's quite obsessive over their music, whilst allowing a whole lot of freedom when it comes to genres and styles. Despite not knowing about 70% of the artists mentioned, the way their stories and album conceptions fit into the overall narrative of Acaster's life feels incredibly natural. Some of the albums mentioned were already my favourite albums before I'd even read the book, so now I'm super excited to delve into the recommendations here! ...more
Ashan K
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
James Acaster may be my favourite comedian/human. It was strange to read essentially a book of album reviews (most of which I'll never listen to), but hearing all the background and the loose connections to his wacky/depressing year was worth it. I've been trying desperately to rekindle my love of music for ??? years, so hearing someone give a shit about it was nice. ...more
Martin Jones
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect Sound Whatever is James Acaster’s account of his life in 2017, a year of stress, both personally and professionally, from which he took refuge in hundreds of albums released the previous year. As he accumulated these albums he built evidence for the humorous assertion that 2016 was the greatest year in music ever. But the humour hides a deadly serious intent to persuade you that 2016 really was the greatest year in music ever.

As chance would have it, I spent 2016 working my way through R
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Nix
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Music lovers
I’ve been waiting for this project since it was announced. James Acaster! Music Reviews! Him talking about his life! yay!

I was worried I would be disappointed, but it was really good. James writes beautifully about music, respecting the artist, the album, and his emotional connection to it, and making even things that are definitely not my style sound amazing. I will absolutely gift this book to the music aficionados in my life who never heard of James. I also just wanna say that he obviously is
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Luce
★★★✰✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up)

A compilation of wonderfully funny and awkward anecdotes.

Perfect Sound Whatever will definitely appeal to readers who are already acquainted with James Acaster. As I consider him to be one of my favourite comedians I was looking forward to this new book by him. Acaster manages to translate his 'on screen/on stage' humour to both the print and the audiobook format of Perfect Sound Whatever. What comes through is also his passion for the project that is at the heart of
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Milky Foxe
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The book is comprised of two distinct parts, James Acaster recounting the emotional and psychological journey he went through that ultimately lead him to become obsessed with the music of 2016, and the reviews of the music he came across on this journey.

The retelling of the personal and professional turmoil he felt he during 2017 is honest and open hearted. His descriptions of his mental and emotional state are frank and brave at times. He moves from being very silly to very serious with great e
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Jake Danby
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of enjoying this book as an audiobook, my first ever, which I feel was the best method to engage with this work. I would describe this book as a music book with a fantastic comedy thread. The research he put into the book is clear from the beginning with his own passion (obsession) with music also shining through. I learned so much about the music of 2016 but also about Acaster himself. I also feel like this is the best book to read when single, many books are about relationsh ...more
George
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be one of my favourite books. A positive cornucopia of music from 2016, an emotional and reflective memoir and some funny jokes as well. I borrowed this from the library but I feel like I'm going to have to buy a copy, I can see this being a book I return to many times for many many years of fun, new, weird and wild music.

Read in beds and finished on the sofa.
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Rachael
May 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever had a conversation with a music snob? They use genres that are gibberish; they ramble on and on about the composition of songs; they “like” music that feels like work to listen to and if they ask your opinion on music it’s to enhance their own feeling of superiority - and to allow them to form an expression of derision should you mention any band that more than 30 people have heard of.

This feels like the book version of that conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect what james ha
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Michael
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love James Acaster. Perfect compliment to his current hour set.

Edit:
I keep coming back to the above one-sentence review, because it doesn't properly encapsulate how often I keep coming back to this book and smiling. Few books have brought me as much joy while reading them, or as many post-read callbacks to pleasant memories, as this one has.

It's structured as half music review, half narrative memoir. (maybe two-thirds music review, one-third narrative memoir). Having seen Acaster's current hou
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Matt
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was torn on getting the audio book or the written copy. As James narrates the Audible version hearing his timing and enthusiasm adds a lot to the experience. A word of warning if you get the audio book though - he will start talking about an interesting album but either you forgot the artist name or you misspell it and you’re trying to flip over to Spotify and then (maybe) think “I’ll come back to this later”. I have so many instances of recommendations in the book that I didn’t get to. This t ...more
Charlie
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know when you're rating things, and you're already a really big fan of whoever's behind that thing, and you loved the thing, but you know everyone you know knows that you're a complete fanboy for people involved in that thing, so you have to wrestle with the fact that everyone you know EXPECTS you to give that thing five stars and might discount your opinion and maybe even lower their opinion of you as a person because of COURSE you'd give that five stars, you're a fanboy who completely lose ...more
Hil
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
On the plus side, I enjoyed reading more about James Acaster's life, and I enjoyed hearing some things about the musicians' lives to an extent. On the negative side, some of it was pretty boring because it was so subjective and the music fairly obscure. This was not as enjoyable to me as Nick Hornby's similar book '31 Songs'. I understand that James identified with a lot of the music because of what he was experiencing himself, and the unusual concept of the book reflects some of the unusual con ...more
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