Hours. . . (Virgin Records)

ON FIRST SPIN, Hours doesn't change the world, as so many of David Bowie's records have. The insistent melodies and off-kilter lyrics of old have given way to what appears to be, well, tired resignation, a sentiment that doesn't quite mesh with Reeves Gabrels' screaming guitar. The somber mood makes a person wonder what on earth sleek, rich, beautiful David Bowie could be so glum about -- middle age, maybe, or the failure of Tin Machine to chart, or the erratic behavior of the real estate market. (This is the same man, after all, who was recently crowned Richest Rock Star in England, thanks to his ingenious Bowie Bonds scheme). Hours deepens on repeated listening, but it doesn't go much beyond a merely workmanlike suite of songs with a couple of standouts, the lyrical "Tuesday's Child" and the metal-crunchy "Pretty Things Are Going to Hell." -- Gregory McNamee

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