Whatever the reason for his seven-year gap between solo albums, it’s good to hear from Mr. Lif. Though he’s stayed active in collaborative projects, his incisive lyricism and conceptual approach to making albums have been missed. And while “Don’t Look Down” has its flaws, Lif’s return is broadly successful. “Pounds of Pressure” makes for a crackling start: Lif vividly narrates the story of a murder, ending with a cliffhanger immediately picked up on the frantic “The Abyss.” Dense, gruff instrumentals bring back Lif’s battle-tested edge, before the album shifts to a more introspective tone on the smooth “Let Go” and “A Better Day” The personal baggage Lif brings into the recording booth gives emotional weight to “iLL” and the title track, though over the course of the entire album it comes at the cost of the loose creative spark that fueled his earlier work. But the overarching theme of the piece is resilience, and no one can accuse Mr. Lif of lacking that.
Martín Caballero can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @_el_caballero.