This week, The Decemberists release their seventh album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. The album, like 2011’s The King Is Dead, finds Colin Meloy toning down what came to be known as the band’s signature lyrical style throughout the ’00s: tragedies in bygone eras, from murders and drownings to rapes and blood feuds, illustrated by a ten-dollar vocabulary. Instead, Meloy focuses more on simplified folk tales, though there’s no doubt he remains a narrative songwriter whose work is deeply influenced by strife and sorrow.
To celebrate Meloy’s signature style, we used some of his best-known characters and moralistic tales to create a set of eight original tarot cards based on Decemberists lyrics. While imagery around some of these characters exists already, via album artwork from illustrator (and Meloy’s wife) Carson Ellis, designer and illustrator Missy Kayko worked with Flavorwire to develop new visualizations inspired by Meloy’s lyrics, American folk art, and the tarot tradition.