There is a belief among fans that the goals of their favorite artists should align with the fans goals for that audience. When fan goals and artist goals are not in unison, divisions in the fandom appear.
Sometimes when Neil puts out an album, be it Crowded House, Finn Brothers or solo, it's clear that his goal is to take on the world. Get singles on radio and in TV shows, tour every corner of the globe, and produce pop songs that will achieve that goal. Of course, that's the Neil Finn that brought most of us here.
But at this stage in his career, a different Neil Finn has emerged. A Neil Finn who is releasing music for the sake of exploring his own interests and deepening his relationships with his family and friends. I like it when Neil rolls out the giant promotional machine and pushes pop song production as far as his muse will allow. But to call Lightsleeper a failure is to have different goals for the album than Neil Finn.
I don't think Neil will look back at Lightsleeper or OoS and think those albums were a mistake because they sold poorly relative to other albums or didn't have songs that got in the charts. When you record and release two experimental albums in two years with limited promotion, you're saying you want to try something new and just get it out into the world. I think they would be a failure if Neil was mounting a world tour around them and no one was showing up to shows, but that clearly isn't what he was looking for.
As a fan, I'm just thrilled that Neil is being so prolific. Neil is not going to write and record albums forever (see Tim Finn). I'm greedy and want the largest Neil Finn collection I can get. The Everyone Is Here/Time On Earth era was an incredible resurgence. And I think it'll happen again. Like Neil says, CH is up on blocks in the garage. Which I take to mean that his aspirations for writing pop albums and doing massive promotion are also up on the blocks. He'll come back around to it, but he's not in any hurry.
If self indulgent experimental albums with limited promotion are not your thing, it's not that Neil has done anything wrong. It's just that he has different expectations for his current work than we do. I think these recent albums are artistic triumphs and I think that's what Neil and co. were going for so I'm calling them a success. You may disagree, but to call them a failure because not enough critics are reviewing them or their singles aren't on the radio is, in my personal opinion, judging the music by the wrong metrics.