I have actually listened through the whole Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends album and have come away with a positive feeling. Once again, remember that I am a huge Coldplay fan. If you are not a fan, listening to a random song on this album may not persuade you. On the other hand, this album has a different vibe than their past efforts, specifically X&Y.
Coldplay has thrown out the formula with this album so even huge fans like myself may have had trouble listening though it for the first time. There are definitely the standout and possible radio-friendly hits like Viva La Vida and Violet Hill. But, radio-friendly is relative in this case since most of today's pop hits are hip-hop infused or sugar pop. There's nothing wrong with those types of music, but Coldplay's music won't get much air time with those stations in the first place.
The album has an overall string and acoustic vibe. Some may feel the glossiness of the album through first listen, but it's just Coldplay's style. I have to say, though, the acoustic versions are equal to if not better than their full counterparts (Lost? and Strawberry Swing). The full version of Lost? has a great clapping beat that would work extremely well in a huge concert setting. It also helps that it's a catchy and uplifting song. The marching beat is matched with great background vocals.
This brings me to the other feeling Viva gives you: it feels like the album takes place in a cathedral or a huge building. There are organs and the secondary vocals are choir-like.
If you are a Coldplay fan who only like songs like Clocks and Speed of Sound, then you might be slightly disappointed that there aren't many piano based "trance" songs. But there are songs that have a driving force and percussive nature to them like Viva La Vida that you can convluse your body to in classic Coldplay style. Some songs are in the album are just begging to be full tracks rather than just appended to the end of other songs. For example, Life in Technicolor does have that old Coldplay feel but is too short (a little over 2 minutes).
Be prepared to fall in love with tracks like Lovers in Japan and Strawberry Swing. Lovers has great percussion and a bouncing piano line with an ever so tiny layer of gloss. I keep saying gloss, but maybe it's something else on this track. You definitely need to listen to this track.
In the end, Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends will satisfy Coldplay fans but may not necessarilly convert naysayers even though the album is more different than any other that Coldplay has created.