Yukon Territory, the solo project of Dallas-based musician Marshall Stubbs, encompasses a range of genres during the 39-minute run time of Saint Elias. Elements of neo-psychedelia, folk, and ambient music figure most prominently here, and Stubbs largely manages to coalesce these disparate ideas into a moody full-length debut.
Saint Elias shines when Stubbs leans heavily into the sort of woozy, atmospheric guitar jams that would sound at home on a record by Spiritualized or early Verve. The seven-minute long “If You Knock” overcomes any potential length-induced monotony with the reverb-heavy guitar that drifts throughout the recording. The final minute of “Calypso” provides the building catharsis of a classic post-rock song. Meanwhile, the penultimate track, “Trails to Lucania,” draws on the ambient soundscapes of groups like Stars of the Lid, with Stubbs’ vocals retreating far to the back of the mix as a mist of effects veils the instruments.
Stubbs finds less success when he falls back on a spare combination of vocals and acoustic guitar as on “Snow Song” and “Snow Song pt. 2.” While the stripped-back instrumentation manages to conjure images of lonely backcountry drives, these tracks pale in comparison to the fuller, denser sound of the rest of Saint Elias. They simply lack the tangible feeling provided by the thick instrumentation on the album’s other tracks. “Unfold Those Crazy Eyes” manages to embody this acoustic sound and avoids becoming stale, sounding almost like a folksier take on The Sundays’ “Here’s Where the Story Ends.”
The album’s final track, “Saint Elias,” is a final manifesto of what Yukon Territory can pull off in its best moments. With a rich mix of textured shoegaze guitar licks, folk-style acoustic finger plucking, piano, and Stubbs’ bleary-eyed vocals, the song manages to evoke a sense of isolation, longing, loneliness, and hope all at once.
Written by Alex Ramsay
*edited by Kate Erickson