I think Kid A was Radiohead trying to tell the story of my PhD.
I'm in my final year now, but I noticed early on that the progression of Kid A perfectly matches the progression of my PhD.
First year: Everything seemed to be in its right place, but something was always off, like sucking on a lemon (EIIRP). Then things got super vague and messy. I couldn't understand what my supervisors wanted from me, or why they wanted me to do certain things (Kid A).
Second year: Jumped into the proposal with full confidence, doing my own thing, ignoring all the advice I was getting (National Anthem). Proposal blew up in my face, forcing me to question a lot of my assumptions about research, about myself, etc. It was a time of personal and professional crisis, and one of the most transformative experiences of my life (How to Disappear Completely). Took me a while to recover my confidence and find my way again (Treefingers).
Third year: Collected and analyzed the first set of studies, and things were going splendidly. Got my groove back and learned a ton in the process. Wrote like a madman. My prospects got a whole lot more optimistic (Optimistic). But setback began to pile on setback, felt totally lost in the PhD (In Limbo). All of this culminated in a series of significant health crises that overlapped with PhD/research crises. These crises were painful but ultimately transformative (Idioteque).
I'm now in my fourth year. Things seem to be winding down. I'm at peace with how the PhD has gone so far. The past two years have been a real crucible for me. All that's left is a year of writing, writing, and the occasional bit of writing on the side.
Reckon I'm now somewhere near the start of Morning Bell. But it's perfectly possible that I'm in a lull in the middle of Idioteque, and crisis will kick up anew fairly soon.
It's a very self-indulgent take on the album, but that's just how personal and idiosyncratic Kid A felt to me.
I would not be surprised at all if more people felt the same way about Kid A. It's captured something really fundamental about human experience.