During the ACPT, while sitting at a virtual "table" with Cece, Horace, Frannie, Phil, and others, we discussed that sometimes theme answers can go in the downs, but usually only if there's a good reason. Today's puzzle is an example.
Unlike yesterday's puzzle (well-spotted, oh commenters), there are five theme answers, and an additional revealer at 66A: Casual ... or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues (LOWKEY). Indeed, if you look at the referenced answers, each one ends in a typical key on modern keyboards. I did not see it coming, which is the way you want it to work, getting that "Aha!" moment. A fairly low-key aha, but there nonetheless.
My favorite of the answers was 3D: Steps taken in an emergency? (FIREESCAPE). A good answer, a fun clue. The others didn't have quite the same zing, but they worked well enough.
I'm more impressed with how smooth the puzzle is, given the density of theme material. FRANKOCEAN makes his NYT crossword puzzle debut. I just read that Don Henley of the Eagles called him "a talentless little prick" because he dared to sample Hotel California for a song. Other nice finds in the puzzle include MUSCAT, BLACKSEA, and ALLEGRO.
You know IMFINE with a puzzle that hits all the marks without too much of INRE or ESA (I remembered to leave the third letter blank this time until I had the cross). And if it contains a TWIX, well, I'm better than fine.