Perfect Sound Whatever By James Acaster

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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 speech (rather than direct quotes), patiently explaining their motivations and mitigation in a way that makes it sound like he’s their mum. Removing the musicians’ voices makes these potentially affecting and insightful stories sound remote and virtually identical.

Which is a shame, as I was really looking forward to this one, and it’s clearly a labour of love. I did find a few cool new records, though. I say ‘new’ – they’re all from 2016. Perfect Sound Whatever This was enjoyable for me. A great way to find new music and artists while also getting to know James Acaster Perfect Sound Whatever Essentially a book of reviews of albums from 2016 that James bought and listened to in 2017. As a result of this he posits the theory that 2016 was the best year in music ever.
Also, alongside the reviews, Perfect Sound Whatever is a memoir of James difficult year in 2017 in which he struggled both emotionally and professionally.
Funny and engaging, plus you'll be introduced to cool new music.
3.5 stars 🌟 Perfect Sound Whatever James Acaster is perfect. He is the 2016 of people. Perfect Sound Whatever 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 raw and dark and deep but somehow still very funny throughout?
He also goes into a lot of detail about different artists and albums and their musical processes, which I understand some people who aren’t particularly interested in music might find boring, but I found it fascinating and I now have a long list of new artists to look up and discover! Perfect Sound Whatever


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 steakhouse and disrespected a pensioner on television.

Luckily, there is one thing he can rely on for comfort – music. In true Acaster fashion, this ends up with a completely unnecessary mission: to buy as much music as he can released in 2016, the year before everything went wrong (for James, at least). 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 in the year that James gets his life back on track.

In PERFECT SOUND WHATEVER, James takes us through the music of 2016, the bullshit of 2017, and how the beauty of one defeated the ugliness of the other. He will also reveal how he stole a cookie from Clint Eastwood and attempted to complete his musical odyssey by reforming one of Kettering’s most overlooked bands. Perfect Sound Whatever

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. Perfect Sound Whatever My year has been a bit scrambled and since covid, I can't seem to read as much as I used to. Not quite sure why is that important for the review of this book, but there it is. Ok, I actually remembered why. I guess 2017 for James was a scrambled year as well and I could sympathize and understand his book from a slightly different angle than I would in a regular year.

I thought it was very brave and important for James to talk about his mental health issues. I know everyone keeps saying that about any half-famous bloke or famous lass who talk about mental health, but it still is important. Last winter being the hardest on me so far, I could empathize with his story.

The musician stories were too short and didn't stick. I didn't like them due to this reason alone. Usually, I really like the origin stories of songs, but this didn't stick.

Nevertheless midway through the book, I got quite an inspiration to explore new music. I've started to listen to a lot more music this year and have started to explore uncharted theories. So James has accomplished the goal he set out with this book - to look for your best year in music. I don't know what it tells about me, but obsessively listening to music released in a specific year doesn't seem that weird to me.

We came around an extremely weird part of the book. It was a part I had once already heard from James himself. I attended his new material night in London and one of the stories - about lasagna has been engrained in my brain since then. I didn't know how to feel about it, so I just concentrated on my memories from the night, which made me miss London a lot. So I will be moving back there and hopefully see many more shows by James before he abandons England in favour of New Zealand.

I didn't know this book is about music, it was a surprise once I started. I checked out some of the music James mentioned but found that we probably don't have much in common and some of the music he likes is and I quote just noise to me. Nevertheless, he ended the book by mentioning Elizabete Balčus and her 2016 album (to which I'm listening as I type this). She and I are both from Latvia, so I found this book to be a satisfying circle with a meaningful ending.

Despite me not really liking the book, it was the right book at the right time for me and made me feel a lot of things.

And I almost forgot to mention that I love that story about Kettering and Lohan - 5/5. Perfect Sound Whatever 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. Perfect Sound Whatever 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 sweet. As an ~academic~ I love seeing people using obsession to pay the bills. Gives me hope LOL. Good Audiobook 4/5 stars. Perfect Sound Whatever 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 Acaster's own life in 2017: loneliness, guilt, and ill health. The breadth of musicians talked about is particularly impressive.
Focusing an entire book based on largely overlooked albums from the year 2016 can at first seem incredibly niche, however the passion that went into the project as well as the relation of this to his own personal struggles is hugely compelling. Perfect Sound Whatever