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The Black Keys 

Thickfreakness (Fat Possum)

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Boasting grooves as viscous and greasy as the goop on its cover, the Black Keys' sophomore effort, Thickfreakness, is vintage blues -- a hell-raisin' heartbreaker of an album that one-ups the duo's masterful 2002 debut.

The din is spearheaded by frontman Dan Auerbach, one of the most gifted guitarists this area has seen in some time, who leads the way with equally emotive and electrifying playing. His scorching fingerwork on cuts like "Set You Free" and "Hurt Like Mine" is both intricate and unhinged, and his wide-eyed howl sounds like a man goose-stepping over hot coals. Auerbach is checked by lanky drummer Patrick Carney, whose sturdy, steady beat makes Thickfreakness as irrepressible as the urge to tip a few while spinning this essential LP.

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