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Studio album by
ReleasedApril 8, 2003 (2003-04-08)
RecordedDecember 2002
StudioStudio 45 (Akron, OH)
LabelFat Possum
ProducerPatrick Carney
The Black Keys chronology
The Big Come Up
Rubber Factory
Singles from Thickfreakness
  1. "Set You Free"
    Released: 2002
  2. "Hard Row"
    Released: 2003
  3. "Have Love Will Travel"
    Released: 2003

Thickfreakness is the second studio album by American rock duo The Black Keys, released in 2003. It is their debut release for the Fat Possum record label, although in the UK and Europe it was co-released by Epitaph Records.


The band's debut album The Big Come Up had been tremendously successful for an independent rock band and Thickfreakness further increased their profile. It continues The Black Keys' tradition of raw, heavy blues-influenced garage rock.

Songs such as "Set You Free" won the pair some mainstream success as being featured in the soundtrack of the 2003 film School of Rock. Heavy comparisons to another American blues-influenced garage rock duo, The White Stripes, were often made by the music media.[1]


Most of the album was recorded in December 2002 during a single 14-hour session in Patrick Carney's basement using an early 1980s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. This approach was necessary because the group spent its small advance payment from Fat Possum Records on rent.[2][3][4][5] The liner notes claim this is Carney's "patented recording technique called 'medium fidelity'". The result is a more vintage sound.[6] Part of "Set You Free" was recorded by Jeff Saltzman.

The album included two covers: "Have Love, Will Travel" by Richard Berry and "Everywhere I Go" by north Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough.


The cover art was made by Carney's brother Michael, who was responsible for the whole graphical process after the layout of The Big Come Up ended up done by Patrick Boissel of Alive Records. As the Carneys drove around Akron trying to think of an idea, they ended up in a Super K-Mart and eventually found a concept upon finding a can of pomade. Then they moved all of the lamps in his house into one room to light up the picture, where Patrick handled the pomade.[7]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The Baltimore Sun[10]
The Boston Phoenix[11]
Houston Chronicle4/5[12]
Rolling Stone[16]

Thickfreakness was The Black Keys' first breakthrough album, as it established them as an indie-rock blues band.[18] Their recognition from Thickfreakness led them on a rigorous tour schedule including opening for singer/songwriter Beck (on his Sea Change summer tour) in the summer of 2003.[19] According to The Boston Globe, "Thickfreakness is an album that's meant to be felt as much as heard, rigged with plunging riffs, Auerbach's charcoal-smoke singing voice, and rhythmic pockets as deep as quicksand".[20] It was during this time that Auerbach began writing material for their next album. When the two returned from touring, Auerbach's landlord had sold his house where the duo wrote Thickfreakness in the basement.[21]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney except where noted

1."Thickfreakness" 3:48
2."Hard Row"Dan and Chuck Auerbach (lyrics)3:15
3."Set You Free" 2:46
4."Midnight in Her Eyes" 4:02
5."Have Love Will Travel"Richard Berry3:04
6."Hurt Like Mine" 3:27
7."Everywhere I Go"Junior Kimbrough5:40
8."No Trust" 3:37
9."If You See Me" 2:52
10."Hold Me in Your Arms" 3:19
11."I Cry Alone" 2:47
Japanese bonus track



Chart (2003-2004) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[22] 90
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[23] 21
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[24] 50


  1. ^ a b Carr, Eric (April 22, 2003). "The Black Keys: Thickfreakness". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (September 2010). "Blues Explosion!". Spin. 26 (8): 60–63. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  3. ^ Katz, Larry (October 7, 2003). "Into the Black; Keys unlock a raw, bluesy sound". Boston Herald. Herald Media Inc. sec. The Edge, p. 47.
  4. ^ Thickfreakness (CD booklet). The Black Keys. Fat Possum Records. 2003.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ Inman, Davis (2010-07-21). "On record: The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach". American Songwriter. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  6. ^ Tranter, Rhys (2003-06-17). "The Black Keys — Thickfreakness". Collective. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  7. ^ Behind the Artwork: Michael Carney & The Heartless Bastard’s The Mountain
  8. ^ "Reviews for thickfreakness by The Black Keys". Metacritic. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  9. ^ Deming, Mark. "Thickfreakness – The Black Keys". AllMusic. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Hogan, Ray (April 24, 2003). "Black Keys: thickfreakness (Fat Possum)". The Baltimore Sun.
  11. ^ Bregman, Adam (May 2–8, 2003). "Black Keys: Thickfreakness (Fat Possum)". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on February 3, 2004. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Sullivan, James (April 6, 2003). "White Boys Get The Blues". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  13. ^ "The Black Keys: Thickfreakness". Mojo (115): 93. June 2003.
  14. ^ Perlich, Tim (April 24, 2003). "Black Keys". Now. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  15. ^ "The Black Keys: Thickfreakness". Q (203): 94. June 2003.
  16. ^ Caramanica, Jon (April 17, 2003). "Black Keys: Thickfreakness". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  17. ^ Harvilla, Rob (June 2003). "The Black Keys: Thickfreakness / The Gossip: Movement". Spin. 19 (6): 105. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  18. ^ Dansby, Andrew (24 June 2004). ""Black Keys Open "Factory""". Rollingstone. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  19. ^ Hunter, James (September 8, 2004). "The Black Keys: Hardly Retreads; on 'Rubber Factory' the Indie Rockers Get High Out of Steel-Belted Blues". The Washington Post. p. C5. ProQuest 409754325.
  20. ^ Perry, Jonathan (2003-05-16). "Blues crush the Black Keys create gritty, bluesy rock that sounds as if it rolls down from the hills but actually comes right from the suburbs Black Keys get down and dirty with the blues". Boston Globe.
  21. ^ Dansby, Andrew. "Black Keys Open "Factory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  22. ^ ""The ARIA Report: Week Commencing 23 August 2004" (PDF). auspOp. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 3, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2024.
  23. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 8, 2024.
  24. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 8, 2024.