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 any more.
A constant comfort in James's 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 only listening to music released that year, ending up with 500 albums in his collection.
Looking back on this year-long obsession, parallels begin to grow between the music and James's 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.