Pop Shop Picks: Megan & Liz, Bruno Mars, Kacey Musgraves & More

Each Friday, Pop Shop will showcase a handful of tracks that have been burning up its speakers over the past week. These can include a brand-new song or a track that's been simmering for a minute; the only rule is that it's worth space in the Pop Shop!

MEGAN & LIZ
"Release You" (3:30)
Producers: Shellback, Max Martin
Writers: Shellback, Max Martin, Megan Mace, Elizabeth Mace
Collective Sounds

Did twin-sister duo Megan & Liz just not-so-quietly issue the most catchy song of the summer? "Release You," the lead single from the YouTube-bred group's forthcoming first album, certainly has a showy pedigree, with Max Martin and Shellback producing and Savan Kotecha recruited as a co-writer. But the song's power resides in Megan and Liz Mace's arresting vocal tics: After brashly attacking the verses of the breakup song with claws drawn, the duo falls back and delivers the titular lyric in a fluttering falsetto. The juxtaposition combines the sneer of Icona Pop's "I Love It" with P!nk's harmonious kiss-offs, and although Megan & Liz are relative newcomers, they confidently glide over the song's candy-coated synth hook and chopped guitar lick like seasoned pop performers. Few radio offerings this season will have a higher replay value than "Release You." -JASON LIPSHUTZ

BRUNO MARS
"Treasure" (2:56)
Producers: The Smeezingtons
Writers: Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence II, Ari Levine, Phredley Brown
Atlantic

Whereas "Locked Out of Heaven" was a paean to Sting and the Police, Mars' latest Unorthodox Jukebox single-which he performed at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards-finds the singer doing his best Lionel Richie impression on this funked-out disco cut. The layers of hooks, horns and harmonies specifically recall the Commodores' "Lady," turning "Treasure" into a tasty jam. -ANDREW HAMPP

BOARDS OF CANADA
"Reach for the Dead" (4:58)
Producers: Mike Sandison, Marcus Eoin
Writers: Mike Sandison, Marcus Eoin
Warp

Boards of Canada approach their career just as they approach their songs: patiently, gracefully and with a distinct sense of purpose. It's been eight years since the Scottish electronic duo's last album (2005's Campfire Headphase), but "Reach for the Dead" is a reliably cinematic reintroduction, with deep-space synth atmospherics bombarded by glitchy electronic buzzes. -RYAN REED

KACEY MUSGRAVES
"Blowin' Smoke" (3:08)
Producers: Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, Luke Laird
Writers: Kacey Musgraves, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally
Mercury

The year's most promising country newcomer shows another side of her character on her second single. Texas native Musgraves is still transfixed on the stark reality of rural Middle America, but where "Merry Go 'Round" was existential and melancholy, "Blowin' Smoke" is a swaggering barroom singalong that proves she has versatility to match her sentimentality. -CHRIS PAYNE

MAYER HAWTHORNE FEATURING JESSIE WARE
"Her Favorite Song" (3:33)
Producers: Oak, Mayer Hawthorne
Writers: Andrew Cohen, Warren Felder
Republic

Hawthorne has yet to release a truly explosive single after a few tries; "Her Favorite Song," the first from his forthcoming album, may not light that spark either, but the song continues an interesting sonic progression for the one-man band. With U.K. showstopper Ware along for the ride, Hawthorne gathers a stylish guitar riff, fat bass and patient drum pattern for a thoroughly expansive neo-soul trip. -JASON LIPSHUTZ