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Perfect Sound Whatever

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  634 ratings  ·  72 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
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Audible Audio
Published August 22nd 2019 by Headline
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  634 ratings  ·  72 reviews


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Rachel
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Acaster is perfect. He is the 2016 of people.
Nat Woods
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rick Burin
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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Lucie Webb
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 ...more
Declan Cochran
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jack Stewart
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The chapter on Lindsay Lohan and Philip Hollobone is incredible
Keith Astbury
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
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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
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Matt
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nix
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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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Anna 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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Jake Danby
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
George Budd
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.
Michael
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 ...more
Molly
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
James Acaster is as charming as ever--I loved this book. I found myself not being able to put it down, except to check out a new-to-me band he was talking about. He clearly spent a lot of time interviewing the artists; I love how instead of ranking any of these albums he places them in an order that the story of their creators parallels his own experiences in 2017. Even though he didn't include my two favorite albums from 2016, he made his case well and I've been converted to his thesis. Looking ...more
catriona
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a couple months ago. Will most definitely read again soon as I listen to all the albums listed in 2020. Tbh the whole Clint Eastwood’s cookie story is probably one of the best things I heard this year. Just read the book for the stories of James’ chaotic life.
Duncan Vicat-Brown
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.
caitlin
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4.5]
as a modern music enthusiast and a james acaster superfan, this review might be a little bit biased.
perfect sound whatever is a combination of personal anecdotes and descriptions of acaster's favourite musical projects from 2016 which works so well together. you can really feel the passion that acaster has for this year in music and for music in general and it makes you want to feel everything he feels when listening to a new song or album or even a playlist.
reading this book was such a
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Hil
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 ...more
Polly
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed listening to this on my walks home from uni.
I now have so much music from 2016 to listen to!
(It should be noted that although I listened to the audiobook version of this book, I think reading the physical book would be the optimum way of reading it. I think it would make it easier to consult the book after reading for the albums recommended.)
Kim
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audiobook of this and it was much more entertaining than I was expecting. The pacing did get a bit off at times, but still an enjoyable romp through a specific year in music and rekindling love for things forgotten.
Heather
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A memoir documenting the greatest year of music of all time - or at least, James Acaster's greatest year of all time - 2016. Connecting a year long project exploring the great music of 2016 alongside a terrible year personally. From Bowie and Beyonce to really obscure albums, it's interesting as a music fan, relatable as someone who turns to music when feeling shit, and a generally good book from a fave. If you listen on audio, the musical interludes is weird but hey.
Katja (Life and Other Disasters)
I ... didn't love this. James Acaster's life stories and anecdotes were as always great, but I picked this as an audiobook and him just talking about random bands and songs that I had never heard of and not getting any samples to listen to (which I know isn't feasible with copyright and all, but it would have been a perfect solution for an audiobook) made it difficult to follow. I didn't feel like pausing my audiobook every time he mentions a song just to look it up, listen to it and then ...more
Thomas E. Staples
Hilarious, informative, and surprisingly heartfelt! I love Acaster, and I hope he keeps doing things like this.
Eoghan Hickey
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is great and relateable. This book is more than just a collect of the best albums of 2016, but importantly it is that too. It goes into talking how James Acaster managed to his life when things were not going well. Working through a breakup and dealing with perfectionism and not liking yourself. It's also very funny and includes situations that you might expect him to get into. I am biased as i love this quirky music lovers takes, but the book is oddly touching too.
Don Jimmy
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
When starting this book, I was struck by something that the author and I had in common. We were both seemingly stuck in a rut of listening to only artists and albums we are familiar with, letting new artists pass us by, and being blissfully unaware of brilliant albums being released all around us. The main difference is that in 2017 Mr. Acaster started doing something to rectify the situation, while I, still sit around listening to albums I bought when I was in my late teens.

What attracted me to
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Ellie Beadle
I didn't feel like super compelled to read this book (hence why it took 2 whole months!!!) but it was an enjoyable morning listen and james is a super nice reader - he's funny and engaging. Lots of info which was why i was like EeeeeeeeEK intense and u actually have to LISTEN to everything he says but def something a bit different from my usual thriller, YA stuff and the memoirs I listen to.
Lydia Alldritt
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Came to this book thinking ‘2009 is the best year for music, but I’ll give this a go’, came out of it with the existentialism that comes with realising everyone else is alive and struggling too. Loved the brutally honest memoir sections just as much as the music reviews. You’ll never watch James Acaster’s stand up specials in the same way after reading the surrounding backstory.
Bailey
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
If you love music and James Acaster, then this book is for you. Acaster is known for his odd and distinct sense of humor, but a look behind the curtain reveals a darker side of his life.

He's frank about his struggles with depression, anxiety, and a mental breakdown that resulted in thoughts of suicide and giving up on his stand-up career. Perfect Sound Whatever is an endearing and laugh-out-loud memoir that humanizes Acaster even more than Classic Scrapes. All the music recommendations are a
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