Sofa, So Good: Clich?s aside, the Used improves on its new disc.

Remember when you were a child, full of unbridled immaturity, and you’d shout “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” at anyone who got close enough to be subjected to your wrath? That line is best left to swing sets and third-grade classrooms. It is not, as the Used seems to presume, fodder for song lyrics. The majority of the band’s third full-length album, Lies for the Liars, is a step forward for the Utah quartet, with an admirably varying selection of heavy, rage-driven rock songs. But the repeated use of the schoolyard taunt on “Liar, Liar (Burn in Hell)” is nearly unforgivable. The band appears to be seeking maturity—or at least growth from the angsty songs on its previous records—but by the time that number arrives 10 tracks in, any feeling that the band members have really grown up has flown out the window. On its previous record, 2004’s In Love and Death, the group danced into pop territory, particularly on the slickly produced mid-tempo singles “Take It Away” and “All That I’ve Got.” That mainstream sensibility remains, though now it’s more often than not buried under the jagged, frantic feel of the group’s self-titled debut, which combined metallic guitars, heavy, driving rhythms, and howling vocals from Bert McCracken that suggested wide-eyed insanity. “With Me Tonight” opens with a jangly guitar hook and bouncing sing-along lines but then launches into a ripping breakdown propelled by McCracken’s signature screams, while the gritty “Hospital” drags you through a dirt path of synth cacophonies and coarse guitars before arriving at its catchy chorus. And the disc’s first single, “The Bird and the Worm,” is similarly raw, with McCracken’s moans laid over the band’s tearing guitar riffs and fast-paced beats—the album’s most obvious throwback to the sharpness of early songs like “The Taste of Ink” and “Blue and Yellow.” The closing track, “Smother Me,” and “Find a Way,” are the only real breaks from the group’s hardcore influences. That’s bad news: McCracken has always been better at anger than heartache, and on “Smother Me,” he’s aiming for emotional heights he can’t reach. On “Find a Way,” the fake ache in McCracken’s voice when he cries “I love you to death” sounds way too close to 30 Seconds to Mars and Hinder. Those flaws, combined with the ludicrous “Liar, Liar” lyrics, add up to a top-heavy record that starts to flag toward the end. Considering the short attention spans of a lot of the Used’s listeners, that may not be an issue. At least the band had better hope so.